Jukskei River Pollution Report April 2017

Irwin Juckes
Irwin Juckes

Summary *

  1. Jukskei River pollution in the upper section of the catchment increased drastically in April 2017. Pollution and river health monitoring in Morninghill in Bedfordview shows this to be the worst situation in two years.
  2. Pollution profiling at five sites between Bruma and St Andrews pointed to a problem upstream of the former Bruma Lake site
  3. The source of the current problem is a sewage spill entering the river from the Queens Wetland, 50 m upstream from Queens Street Bridge. 

This report describes the Jukskei River pollution from the Bruma sewage spill in April 2017. Read here for more background to the situation in the Jukskei River catchment.

Pollution trend in Morninghill April 2015 to April 2017 *

Jukskei River Pollution increased drastically in the upper section, as shown at Clarkson Rd, Morninghill. The first graph shows the trend in two measures of pollution (RiverWatch Pollution Score and Turbidity in NTU) and river health (MiniSASS) since May 2015. The situation in April 2017 is the worst recorded in two years, and reverses an improvement over the previous year.

Graph showing pollution vs river health at Clarkson Rd, Morninghill, from April 2015 to April 2017 with drastic decline in 2017
Jukskei pollution and river health at Clarkson Rd, Morninghill, to April 2017

Pollution profile of Upper Jukskei River April 2017 *

The second graph shows total dissolved solids (TDS in mg/L) and pollution score at five sites between Tenth Street Bruma and Willow Crescent in St Andrews, Bedfordview. These two measures of pollution show a sharp increase at the site of the former Bruma Lake.

Graph showing pollution and turbidity in the upper Jukskei with peak at Bruma Lake site April 2017
Jukskei upper pollution profile April 2017

Impact of Jukskei River Pollution *

Upstream from Queen Street the water was grey-brown, foaming moderately with a smell of sewage. It is consistently like this. Downstream from Queen Street the water was grey-white, more turbid and smelling strongly of sewage. Usually the river at this point is clearer as much of the solid matter is precipitated out and retained by the weir under the bridge. The third photo shows the state of the river bed at the end of Clarkson Road in Morninghill. The rocks are covered in a layer of “sewage fungus”, making it impossible to assess river health.

The amount of foam increases steadily from Bruma to a peak at Gillooly’s Farm. This is usual since breakdown of sewage by bacteria produces the substances causing stable foam.

Jukskei River typical pollution upstream of Queen St 26 April 2017
Jukskei River pollution upstream of Queen St 26 April 2017
Jukskei River flowing grey-white in Bruma due to sewage pollution 26 April 2017
  Jukskei River sewage pollution in Bruma 26 April 2017
Jukskei River bed at Clarkson Rd, Morninghill, showing sewage fungus 26 April 2017
Jukskei River bed at Clarkson Rd, Morninghill, showing sewage fungus 26 April 2017

Source of the current pollution *

The source of the current problem was easy to find. The photo shows the scene about about 50 m upstream from Queen Street Bridge. Pollution in the Jukskei River (foreground) is typical up to this point. In the background high volumes of heavily contaminated water are flowing from the Queens Wetland, which normally adds small volumes of clear water. 

Source of the Jukskei River sewage pollution during April 2017
Jukskei  River pollution source in Bruma 2 May 2017

3 thoughts on “Jukskei River Pollution Report April 2017

  1. Hi Irwin. Please can you send me your mobile number. I am urban design student at Wits and looking to do masters degree thesis around the Jukskei urban river course.

  2. Thank you as always for your invaluable input and follow up Irwin! Ive been assured by CoJ that bioremediation will take place this week – and start having an affect by the weekend.

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