IT IS no longer possible for the member (of the Upper Jukskei Flyfishing Collective) to ignore the excavation going on at what was Bruma Lake (allegedly) in the east of Joburg, the wannabe world-class city, but first a laugh from back in June 2007. It goes: "The cleaning of Bruma Lake is under way."

That, according to a Joburg council newsletter, was one of a number of interventions by the city to restore the upper Jukskei River. It was also aimed at dealing with health problems that resulted from the overburdened system, said Jane Eagle, the city’s then assistant director responsible for air and water quality.

By now, of course, we know that the number of the city’s interventions at Bruma Lake (so called) is large and that the success rates are quantifiable only in degrees of calamity, of which the 2007 effort is the earliest the member could find in the city’s online archives. There have been many such efforts, though, each punctuated by an admonition from the member about what should be done instead.

One such fun item was the introduction in 2012 of three solar-powered devices (SolarBee) that were meant to circulate and improve oxygenation of the lake water. Apparently aerobic decomposition is good, but other limnologists may disagree, preferring anaerobic processes. As SolarBee said at the time, circulation will not solve the pollution or odour problem, "but it will go a long way towards temporarily alleviating these until permanent remedial works can be implemented".

Third — and this may be profound — is that the motivation for the change of heart and science among the city cadres is the result of demands, as a city newsletter put it, from the business sector.

At the same time, the city started a "bioremediation programme" using a product called Eco-tabs along with litter traps upstream, according to an Engineering News report. Eco-tabs release hydrogen peroxide, a rocket fuel and algaecide, when dissolved in water which, in minute quantities, is great for your backyard fish pond.

Bruma Lake (lake?), however, was no fish pond and stank up the neighbourhood all the same. The member’s advice was that the only thing to do with the foul, cadaver-infested cesspool was to break it up, recreate the wetland and allow nature to do the filtering and cleaning.

Now, it seems, there is evidence of that happening and, no, the member does not gracelessly expect credit, since that would require the city’s unlikely admission that it had been wrong all these years in spending ratepayers’ money on highly suspect solutions, the only variable being the magnitude of the x in the Rx-million statement. Also, the city would have to admit that such an idea had come from a source in the media, a societal phenomenon which, in the minds of mandarins everywhere, is incompatible with the common weal.

Let us not dwell. If the city gets it right this time there will be several consequences, chief of which is restoring the piscatorial honour of the Upper Jukskei Flyfishing Collective. Second, a cleaner Jukskei will benefit everyone downstream, from the squatters at Dainfern and Alexandra to the irrigation farmers along the highveld Crocodile River all the way to the Limpopo.

Third — and this may be profound — is that the motivation for the change of heart and science among the city cadres is the result of demands, as a city newsletter put it, from the business sector.

Let us paraphrase that. Could it be that someone in the affected business community has finally located his gonads and advised the city that any percentage taxed, rated, solicited, bribed or otherwise extorted from an income of zero is zero and, in that way, zero is the sum that the city would be able to exact from Bruma’s businesses for application to the common weal, unless the alleged lake is removed, forthwith?

And there is wonder too. Whatever took the Bruma business community so long?

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