Black River 2011

This is the CTPC’s second year involved with the Black River, a river that could be a community asset but is currently underutilised. This is in part due to the problems stemming from the Black River including pollution, health risks, and invasive plant species. In 2011, students laid the initial plans for creating a river pathway along the Black River based on footpaths that are already used by the community.  This year’s project will delve into the Two Rivers Urban Park (TRUP) section of the river and develop plans to build a pathway.  A study of last year’s project will give this year’s group a basis for understanding for the pathway vision.

The ultimate goal identified by last year’s project was to draw people to the river in order to educate them on the state of the river, create interest in restoration efforts and begin economic advancement around the river.  To do this, the team analysed the banks of the Black River and developed a pathway plan based on “desire lines,” or unofficial pathways created by frequent use.  They envisioned the pathway to be useful for recreation and transportation for use by the multiple communities that surround it.  They also documented the different hazards and obstacles of the river such as pollution emanating from the Elsieskraal and Vygenkraal rivers, invasive plant life, namely the water hyacinth, health risks including bacterial contamination and toxins, and physical obstacles such as highways, railway crossings and private property.  Other considerations included logistical placement and longevity of the pathway such as flooding considerations and pathway materials suitable for humans, horses and bicycles.

The team also looked into potential stakeholders for the river restoration.  The Two Rivers Urban Park Committee, an NGO, is an organisation largely invested in the development of the TRUP area, inclusive of Oude Molen Eco Village (OMEV) and Maitland Garden Village (MGV).  The Rondebosch golf course is located on the edge of the river and could economically benefit from investment in a river pathway. Other considerations include Valkenberg Hospital and Raapenberg Bird Sanctuary to bring tourism into the pathway design.  Incorporating potential stakeholders, obstacles and community interest, the team developed a visual representation of the pathway by taking images of the decrepit river banks and drawing their design for updating the area.

Future goals were also set by last year’s project.  For example, besides the general restoration of the Black River waters, the local communities showed interest in water taxi access and Olympic rowing courses.  There were a few final recommendations that will be closely analysed by this year’s Black River pathway team, the first of which is to begin construction of the pathway in the TRUP area. Other recommendations include appointing a river restoration expert to oversee progress, increasing community involvement with the river, mitigating river pollution by identifying and stopping the source, implementing an educational plan about the river, and improving the informal settlements along the river (Gravel et al. 2011).

Understanding the 2011 Black River project is vital to the success of this year’s project. Research and recommendations from last year’s team will be included in our initial project consideration and will continue to be a valuable reference for this project’s duration.