Improved Water Quality
We lobby for improvements to the sewage infrastructure and the operation and maintenance of that infrastructure in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. We also keep an eye on water quality in the Duzi (particularly before major races) and regularly patrol the main bulk lines to look for spills. In Pietermaritzburg budgets of over R400 million have been approved for improvements to the Darvill Sewage Works and to the city’s main sewers, which will make a difference as improvements are made over the next 5 years. A 3 year programme is also underway to reduce stormwater ingress into sewers, which is one of the main causes of sewage spills during and after rainfall. We meet regularly with the authorities to discuss progress and share ideas. Meanwhile DUCT continues to lobby for better equipment for the municipal teams which perform the unpleasant and thankless task of keeping our sewers unblocked.
DUCT lobbies for more resources to be allocated to the important task of keeping sewage in the sewers
Reduced Solid Waste in the river
On a practical level DUCT has established, maintains and regularly clears a 100 metre long trash boom which catches much of the solid waste that floats down the river from the Duzi catchment above Campsdrift. Among other things that DUCT regularly removes from this boom are dead goats and dead dogs.
Since its inception DUCT has lobbied for improved solid waste management, particularly by the Msunduzi Municipality which has dropped this ball in recent years. We understand that a new municipal programme has recently been launched which will extend solid waste removal services to many areas which have had no service for the last seven or eight years. This should make some difference.
Meanwhile for the last three years (July 2010 to June 2013) we have had nine River Care Teams operating on the uMsunduzi and uMngeni Rivers. Their responsibilities have included pollution monitoring, solid waste removal and alien vegetation clearing. The lottery grant which funded this work ended in June 2013 but the work still carries on at a reduced scale with 4 teams on the river between Inanda and Blue Lagoon (funded by eThekwini through the Durban Green Corridor programme), two teams doing alien vegetation clearing in the Duzi catchment funded by the Department of Environment Affairs, and one team active in Pietermaritzburg funded by DUCT with partial funding from the IDT.
In 2006 DUCT organised the first voluntary River Clean-up day, which since then has taken place each year on the same day as Coastal or Beach Clean-up day and Clean up the World Day (annually on the third Saturday of September). DUCT supporters also independently carry out voluntary river clean-up activities at times and places of their choosing. At NCC Bruce Baxter co-ordinates a group which has been faithfully doing 2 hours of voluntary work on the first Saturday of most months since 2006.
DUCT has developed and maintains an innovative “Trash Boom” that catches solid waste above the Campsdrift Canal on the Msunduzi River
The uMsunduzi and Umgeni River systems have become badly degraded through neglect and over exploitation. With increasing demands on resources, poor governance and external threats such as global climate change these river systems will be increasingly unable to support the range of aquatic, riverine and human life which is dependent on a healthy river system.
DUCT’s vision is an ecologically healthy and biologically diverse uMngeni-uMsunduzi river system that provides sustained ecological goods and services for the communities that depend on them for their survival. We envisage that our communities will show respect for the rivers and will take ownership and responsibility for the condition of the rivers, seeking to preserve their natural function and beauty.
We envisage rivers where water quality and quantity are maintained at acceptable norms with healthy natural riparian zones and where the biological diversity is preserved. We have a vision of a community where all residents possess a basic understanding and appreciation of their river ecosystems. We see government, business, the scientific community and civil society cooperating in providing the resources to effectively manage the river systems.
We recognise that the problems with the health of the rivers are large and have not developed overnight. Our vision is ambitious and will only be achieved through progressive, combined and sustained actions by government and civil society. Our role is to:
We work in partnership with other organisations, whether from civil society or government, who share our vision.
To champion the environmental health of the uMngeni and uMsunduzi Rivers
"Healthy Rivers = Healthy People"
DUCT's Strategic Areas
Duct has eight strategic focus areas. These are:
Just a few highlights from Duct’s work in these eight areas over the last four years have been:
HEALTH RIVERS = HEALTHY PEOPLE
Note - Water Quality for races on the Duzi River
Water is always released from the Henley Dam for the canoe races in Pietermaritzburg. The quality of water released from Henley is typically very good (less than 500 E.coli per 100ml). As this is a higher flow than the flow in the river without the release, this Henley water does significantly improve the quality of the water that paddlers are exposed to.
Interpreting the results
If you are a microbiologist or a seasoned paddler the stats above might mean something to you… but if not, you might find the following table useful when trying to interpret what the E.coli count means for you as a paddler.
E. coli bacteria occur naturally within mammal digestive systems and most of them are not harmful in any way. However, because they are so common E. coli data are considered useful as a general indicator of a wide range of other potential human pathogens, and thus also of the possible presence of sewage related water quality problems. In the absence of other data, E. coli numbers are useful in allowing a general assessment of other potential water quality risks.