Once, this water system was connected to Princess Vlei and the othervleis in the area through an extensive network of seasonal watercourses and wetlands, but as the map below shows, these water flows have been interrupted by human activity. Humans have had much impact on the course of this river, as my journey revealed.
The Diep River forms a thin, unbroken blue line on this map, but following it is not as straightforward as it looks here.
4 Although it is only a few kilometers from its source there is evidence of pollution, as it meanders through lower Constantia behind Norman Henshilwood School.
6 Water is taken from the river to irrigate the school fields
5 This black elder tree is one of many invasive alien species that have taken root by the river.
7 Clearing litter is a constant problem, but can also provide employment as it does for these workers for the EPWP.
8 The winter rains and storm water off the streets create floods which erode the river banks and wash away infrastructure, like this wall.
10 The residents with houses also create problems. Garden waste dumped in or next to the river clogs up litter and silt traps
12 Our city is full of boundaries, but a river knows no fences ...
14 It goes through some private gardens ...
16 Here it joins the Wynberg River, and is crossed by the oldest bridge on Main Rd. It wearily carries much of the waste tossed into street gutters and storm drains.
18 Soon the river has to duck under a railway line
20 The river disappears from view under the factories in the Diep River industrial area - the only sign of it is in the name of this building.
22 The high Spanish reeds are aliens, but they can be harvested for ceilings and garden fences.
9 Everyone wants a home by the river ... but these informal residents can create pollution and litter problems.
11 The gardens of the wealthy also bring in many exotic aliens, which disrupt the river flow and indigenous flora
13 We find our river friend again wandering besides this children's play structure ...
15 And comes out again, no longer meandering through the earth but held by the concrete walls of a canal
17 Here, the two joined rivers are split - the original canal proved inadequate for winter floods, so instead of widening it they build another alongside it.
19 One of the many storm water drains challenging the river's ecosystem.
21 The river seems to sigh with relief as at last it leaves behind its concrete walls, and the two streams are reunited.
23 The river is chocked with other aliens, but biological control agents with species such as water hyacinth and Parrots Feather, are making a difference. Despite the pollution and alien infestation, the river still provides a home to bird species such as this Red-knobbed Coot