The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has 11 influential rivers and streams with two rivers marking the east (Sundays River) and west boundaries (Van Stadens River) respectively.
The following rivers falling within the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality have been identified as needing our attention and protection during July’s Clear Rivers Month:
- Baakens River: A 23km urban river which originates on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. It meanders through the residential suburbs and culminates at the city centre, flowing into the Algoa Bay Harbour. Unlike many other urban rivers the Baakens River is fortunate to maintain its natural state in the upper and middle reaches. The lower reaches of the river have been altered with weirs and the last two kilometres have been canalised. The mouth of the river was originally a tidal estuary, but is now a concrete channel, open permanently to the sea.
- Brak River: The Brak River is on the Uitenhage side of Lady’s Slipper and is one of two subsidiary tributaries, along with the Chatty River, feeding the Swartkops catchment area.
- Chatty River: The Chatty River traverses the semi-arid landscape of the northern inland areas of the city. Garden plots next to the Chatty River become known as Kleinskool and Veeplaas when this area was demarcated in 1879. The Chatty River is the fourth longest river with its entire length contained within the borders of NMBM. In contrast to the Papenkuils River, the Chatty River’s biggest problem arises not so much from industrial activity and the formal discharges of storm water and effluent, but from the large number of informal settlements that have been established along its banks.
- Coega River: The word Coega comes from the Nguni languages word Khoekhoen which means ’ground water’. The Coega River is the longest river in the metro (62 kilometres) and the Port of Ngqra is situated at it’s mouth. The Coega River flow is sub-surface for most of it’s length.
- Elands River: The Elands River meanders through the Elends River Valley which is 60 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, between Uitenhage and Patensie. Flanked by the Winterhoek and Elandsberge Mountains, with the Cockscomb range in the South, the valley offers the most stunning views of gorges and deep valleys.
- Kwazungu River: Kwazungu river is next to Chase’s Kloof and feeds the Groendal Dam in the Groendal Wilderness area west of Uitenhage. The Kwazungu and Elands rivers are tributariries of the Swartkops River.
- Papenkuils River: The Papenkuils River has small catchment area of approximately 600 square kilometres and enters Algoa Bay approximately 8 km north of Cape Recife. For the last 3 km of its course, the river flows through the industrial areas of North End and Deal Party and for this entire section the river bed and banks have been canalized with concrete. The urban areas of Gelvandale and Algoa Park, together with one municipal rubbish dump, are situated at the head of the river, while industrial effluents contribute to the flow in the region of the mouth.
- Swartkops River: The Swartkops catchment is approximately 1 555 square kilometres and is bordered on the north and west by the Groot Winterhoek Mountains and rapidly descends to the coastal plains of Port Elizabeth. The catchment consists of four tertiary sub-catchments. The river system consists of two main (Elands and Kwazunga rivers) and two subsidiary tributaries (Brak and Chatty rivers). The length of the Swartkops River within the NMBM boundary is 54 km.
The Department of Water and Sanitation has called on all South Africans and visitors in the country to join in on the Clear Rivers Campaign during the Month of July.
The annual campaign follows the call made by President Jacob Zuma in his 2014 State of the Nation Address to clear rivers of pollution.
The department explained that the ultimate goal of the campaign is to foster communities that are actively involved and engaged in the management of water resources in the country, as well as to help communities become water savvy and environmentally conscious.
“The campaign is particularly important given that some parts of the country are recovering from the worst drought in decades with the Western Cape still in the clutches of the drought and dam levels showing slight increases due to low rainfall,” the department said.
Since the campaign runs in July, it will be closely associated with volunteerism that is promoted in the month, as part of the Mandela Month activities.
Through a collaborative effort, communities, regional and national departmental officials, the private sector and other sectors of society are invited to join in and make a difference in the upkeep of the environment by dedicating their time to cleaning rivers, acknowledging the need to protect and efficiently use water resources.
Last year, the department together with its partners and Team South Africa cleared more than 50 rivers and hopes to clear more this year.