Over the past four years, the Hennops River Revival project has grown from a small concern to a major award-winning force fighting for clean water.
In 2019, Tarryn Johnston’s daughter wanted to do a river clean-up to remove trash from the Hennops River following a massive flood in the area.
This led Johnston to invite community members to help, and the project continued to grow from strength to strength.
Four years later, the Hennops River Revival project has attracted the attention of international companies, government departments, environmental organisations and the public at large, and has won numerous awards for its contribution to water conservation.
Johnston is now ready to grow it even bigger, beyond the banks of the Hennops.
“In 2024, we have an incredible expansion of our project,” Johnston told Rekord.
This comes with a brand-new sister NPO, Deep Water Movement, that will tackle water activism on a limitless scale.
“We are looking at expanding, reaching more people, getting more people involved. We do not have any more time to sit around and wait for someone else to fix the problem. We all need water, and we are all running out. The faster we get into action and start participating in our wishes for a better environment and a better country, the better. We need to be the change that we want to see.
“Hennops Revival restricts us to the Hennops River, whereas Deep Water Movement can grow as far as it can. I’m not placing any limits on that,” said Johnston.
The focus would be to empower communities and for people to follow the impactful work of the Hennops Revival within their communities and their rivers.
She said the project would begin with basic plumbing courses offered to learners, teachers and staff at schools, allowing them to repair their plumbing and save water in the process while providing valuable skills development.
“We will create money-less hubs where people can come and exchange their waste for something of need.”
The organisation will supply communities with different containers where they could then separate their waste at the source.
Food waste can be exchanged for vegetables, non-recyclables can be exchanged for something of need, and recyclables will be used to upskill residents.
“We would teach people how to see value in their waste, and how to create new products from this waste.
All of this will hopefully minimise the amount of waste making it into our water channels and stormwater drains,” said Johnston.
“This is very exciting for me and I am looking forward to empowering people to empower themselves.”
Johnston said the key to success will be education.
“What we have found is that even the educated people need education.”
The Hennops River starts in Ekurhuleni as part of the Kaalspruit, making its way through Tembisa and into Centurion, where it continues to meet the Crocodile River just before Hartbeespoort Dam.
The Hennops is one of Gauteng’s most polluted rivers, with many Centurion residents regularly coming face-to-face with the effects of its pollution.
Johnston’s organisation works tirelessly to combat this.
Despite the project’s success, Johnston will always stand firm that her concern and focus will remain on the precious resource that is our water.
“My kids won’t ever have to ask me what I did while we adults were destroying the planet… I will never sit down and do nothing about it,” said Johnston.
Since the first clean-up, Hennops Revival has done over 700 more, created over 8 000 job opportunities, and generated over 24 000 volunteer hours.
The project has removed more than 162 500 bags of waste, and together with the other debris and waste taken out of the river, has extracted an estimated 4 585 280kg of waste out of the water system.
It has moved beyond simply removing waste from the river, clearing stormwater drains and advocating for change, to prevent the waste from ending up there in the first place.
The project’s work assists in flood prevention, while also taking care to monitor the quality of water.
Recently, Johnston helped make her long-time dream of bringing back Centurion Lake Park a reality as the project partnered with Cummins Incorporated and Hydromulch to start the process.
The project has received funding, partnerships, and sponsors, including the seal of approval from the metro, while Johnston and the project have received numerous nominations and awards.
“Happy Birthday Hennops River Revival,” said Johnston.
“A huge thank you to all my crew and all the believers who have made this incredible amount of work possible.”
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