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Mayday For Rivers - Walkers arrive home


another with litter and who knows what liquids (and all very smelly).

At the back of the brewery, the smell emanating from the storm water drain contained elements of horribly fermented yeast and sewage as we stood on the gabions at the storm water outlet.

– the pool below the outlet looked none too savoury either.

Given the size of some of the storm water drains and the information we received that after heavy rains, they disgorge piles and piles of rubbish into the river, I understood the day a couple of years ago when my son called me after flying a helicopter at low level over the uMngeni River mouth. Horrified, he recounted that the river, (swollen after recent heavy rains), looked like coloured ribbons streaming out to sea what with all the rubbish that was carried along. Some folk have to use this water to wash themselves and their clothes.

How we have not had major disease outbreaks is beyond me.

The storm water drain that is situated on the banks of the upper reaches of blue lagoon – blue????? - what a misnomer – was none too savoury either – stank of sewage and the mud flats below it were, um… put it this way I wouldn’t want to get into that mud. Mud usually has a savoury, earthy, well, muddy smell…. This mud quite honestly just stank of unknown horrors.

Who knows what gets into the water – this was something that left a white powdery layer on the mud when it all dried.

Oh – and don’t forget the piles of dumping and before this years DUZI race, the relevant River Care Team collected an astounding 2,000 bags of rubbish at Blue lagoon alone!

And yet, amongst all the horrors, we found love and care too – a beautifully tended cemetery, veggie gardens thriving and even a couple of pretty gardens, made for the love and joy they bring; mown lawns and trees planted by DUCT, proudly shown to us by Herbert, the supervisor of that section.

The pride and joy that Herbert has in his work reflected the attitude of all the DUCT River Care Team members and staff that we met along the way. It was reflected by the 3 municipal cleaners that Pandora & I met at sunrise on the beach the morning after the walk – when I congratulated them on their efforts, they beamed with pride. Visibly emotional, they told us how passionate they were about their work in helping to keep the river and oceans clean. I would give an eye tooth to see such passion and pride on the face of many a blue collar worker. This attitude was reflected in the Working for the Coast staff we met on the beach after our mangrove walk.

There are so many people like these, to whom we all owe an enormous debt of thanks – without them I hate to imagine what state our Mama River would be in. I would like to start a page on the blog called The Unsung Heroes, that will list people who lovingly and unselflessly give of themselves in the Fellowship of the river – all those who love her and care for her. So if you have any nominations, please email me on : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Take care – and watch this space, we will continue keeping up the blog and the river stories alive.