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DUCT News: August 2017


After being well established in Popes Canoe Centre at 4 Edmond Place, Camps Drift, the DUCT office has moved to 240 West Street. Although we are no longer in sight of the uMsunduzi River we are still within walking distance!

Our new home is on the corner of West and Burger Street with the entrance in Burger Street.

Our telephone numbers and postal address remain unchanged.

With the prospective move in the air since the beginning of the year, our first quarter newsletter escaped ‘publication’ so we go back to January in this edition!


At the invitation of Sibusiso Ntinga, Senior Supervisor of a River Care Team, three ‘desk dwellers’ from the office visited the team on site near Nagle Dam.

Sibusiso pointed out the wetland rehabilitation that his team had undertaken above the Dam Wall and gave a very interesting and informative tour through the area just below the dam where the team was hard at work clearing Alien Invasive Plants from the uMngeni River banks. Natural vegetation should return once the AIP’s have been removed.


Nagle Dam 1 Site Duct Nagle Dam Site 2 Duct Nagle Dam Site 3 Duct Nagle Dam Site 4 Duct


The Msunduzi River Health Youth Situated Learning Project has been established by DUCT in partnership with Liberty NPO in Imbali and Sakhisizwe Community Education Programme (SCEP), in Ashdown and falls under the Msunduzi Green Corridor Project (MGC).

Twelve Enviro-Champs, with a commitment to environmental and community service and skills development are currently undertaking a one year structured non-accredited Situated Learning Programme within the two township sites. Through this programme they are equipped to initiate and implement an environmentally orientated community development project, to identify a vocational pathway and social entrepreneurial initiative within their community that will contribute to the reduction of river pollution and improved local catchment health in Ashdown and Imbali.

The Enviro-Champs began to implement their community projects in both townships in April. In the Ashdown Township they are restoring the uMbucwane tributary that runs along Siyahlomula High School, and in the Imbali Township they are rehabilitating the 1.5 km wetland that lies in the Zamazulu High School.

The Enviro-Champs were advised by Scott from Groundtruth to start these two community projects with Alien Invasive Plant identification and clearance and attended an Alien Invasive Plant eradication training course.

Ashdowns Mbucwane River 1 Ashdowns Mbucwane River 2 Duct



To mark youth month and the environment, more than 600 Pietermaritzburg residents, including teachers and learners from 38 DUCT School Eco Clubs took part in the Msunduzi Green Corridor River fun run on Sunday 25TH June 2017 hosted at the Natal Canoe Club, at Camps Drift. The event was to highlight the sharply declining health of the Msunduzi River due to sewage, solid waste and industrial pollution and to build a shared vision for a revitalized “green corridor” along the Msunduzi River within the city.

A 6 kilometre river trail gave runners the unique opportunity to experience the full length of the Camps Drift, which despite it obvious sport and recreational potential, has become increasingly degraded and polluted. A shorter 3 km route catered for young children.

Participants were also entertained with a cultural dance by the Sombongangani Primary School Eco Club and a demonstration of canoe marathon paddling by 40 members of the Kwazulu-Natal Canoe Union Development Programme.

The Msunduzi Green Corridor Pilot Project supported by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, is currently working with two local NGO’s, Liberty NPO and Sakhisizwe, in Imbali and Ashdown to address both youth education, development and river health issues in these two river pollution “hotspots”.


Aquelle Midmar Mile 1 Aquelle Midmar Mile 2 


aQUELLE MIDMAR MILE – 11th and 12th February 2017

We were very excited and grateful to once again be the beneficiary of the funds raised by eleven courageous swimmers who took on the aQuelle Midmar Mile 16 Mile Challenge. They swam 8 miles on each day of the weekend, beginning on the ‘finish’ side of the dam in time to be on the start line on the other side for the official races.

The thrilling weekend of swimming was preceded by an interesting and inspiring “Breakfast Talk” by Ryan Stramrood on his ice-swimming exploits. Our grateful thanks to Ryan who donated the proceeds raised from his talk to DUCT.

We salute the following aQuelle Midmar 16 Milers for 2017 – both for their commitment to putting in the miles in training, and to their commitment to the fund raising target:
Gary Albertyn (second year), Wade Calenborne (second year), John Francis, Lauren Justis, Shane Le Breton (second year), Keiron Palframan, Chris Stainforth, Ryan Stramrood, Kelvin Steyn (second year), Marius van Reenen, Samantha Whelpton.

DUCT hosted the swimmers in dedicated tents where, in addition to the necessary food and drinks, four sports massage therapists were on hand side to give them a quick ‘rub-down’ between swims.

Each swimmer was allocated a committed paddler on a sit-on-top boat who stayed next to them for every mile - no mean feat when they were amongst the hundreds taking part in the official races!

Our thanks to the following paddlers who gave their time and expertise: Dave Still, Doug Burden, Eddie Dykes, Hugh Raw, Bruce Accutt, Kirsten Oliver, Ian Ross, Bruno Cullen, Tony Compton, Clint Lawson, Bryce Lawson, Bruce Baxter, Han van Aardenne, Fiona MacCrimmon, Peter Peacock, Mark Webber, Malcom Byres, Kevin Gotte and Craig Wright.

For their valuable contributions to the weekend, our grateful thanks also go the following (in no particular order):
Granny Mac’s for catering and for their financial contribution
Time Freight for the sponsoring of the massage therapists (who were kept busy and worked very hard!) and Sue Nugent who facilitated the arrangements.
Stihl for their contribution to swimmers and paddlers costs, caps and boat stickers
Race Food for their energy and /endurance bars
Johnsons Workwear for providing high visibility shirts for the paddlers
Hugh Raw, Owen Hemingway, Wayne Ridden and Andrew Lake for the use of their sit-on-top boats
Natal Canoe Club for the carpeting used in the tents
Hugh Raw for his untiring work in preparing the ‘hospitality tents’ and to Bruce Baxter for his assistance over the weekend.
Kirsten Oliver for photographs


Aquelle Midmar Mile 3 Aquelle Midmar Mile 4 Aquelle Midmar Mile 5



KZN summers are hot which hyacinth loves. Hyacinth can double the water surface it covers in a mere 2 weeks, according some sources.

Gauging Weir, just below the Dusi Umngeni confluence, has slow flowing water which has been an ideal place to install a boom to limit the spread of hyacinth further downstream. This allows for the control of the plant in a place which is not only accessible, but the plants are concentrated at the boom. Herbicide is usually applied from a Canadian canoe or if necessary from a motorised boat with a two stroke pump depending on the level of infestation.

Inspections of the Dusi/ uMngeni systems in January saw the hyacinth at Gauging Weir extending to about 100m up from the boom. The challenge was to be able to access the whole area as it was compacted against the boom. Our boat with a 5HP Yamaha outboard motor was underpowered for the job, and could not push through the mass of hyacinth which was about 0.5m tall. The hyacinth had not been treated for over a month and there was plant growth over and below the boom, making the lifting of the boom impossible without hacking it away.

On 19 January 2017 we started by spraying a 10m swath of the hyacinth along the boom. As the boat could not penetrate much into the “field “of hyacinth, we tried along the bank with not much success. We tied the boat to the bakkie and tried to drag the boat but the traction along the bank was not favourable. We then decided that we should be able to lift the boom over the sprayed hyacinth to allow the hyacinth to float downstream, then drop the boom to spray the next 10 metres of hyacinth and so on until we had completed the job. Not that easy, as the hyacinth had grown over the boom and we could not lift it at all. So out with the Machete and we started to make progress. We could eventually lift the boom and push it about 3 metres into the already sprayed hyacinth. We then drove the boat through the hyacinth to separate it and break it free from the large mass. These large drifting clumps were then pushed over the weir to make sure it cleared away and after three passes of lifting the boom and pushing sprayed hyacinth out the way, we could then resumed spraying the next 10 metre swath.


Gauging Weir Hyacinth Problem 1 Duct Gauging Weir Hyacinth Problem 2 Duct Gauging Weir Hyacinth Problem 3 Duct


2 February 2017 saw us return to Gauging weir with boat and spray rig. Disappointing to see that about two thirds of the hyacinth mass was still bright green and growing furiously but we could push through it and managed to spray most of the infestation. We then launched the boat just below the weir to spray the hyacinth massed along the banks and then finished off by launching the boat just above Marianney Foley where we could spray very effectively, manoeuvring the boat between the rocks .

With the excessive growth rate of the hyacinth this year, hyacinth was sprayed in various places over a period of 9 days before Dusi Canoe Marathon along the route. An attempt was also made to clear the Water Lettuce blockage below Pumphouse weirs.


During June over 200 people participated in three clean-up campaigns in the Edendale area. At Imbali two events were organised by Lungisile and Ndabenhle Primary School Eco-Clubs. These were well supported by both community members and teachers. On the day Lungisile announced that they will be adopting a section of the Willowfountain Stream. A third clean-up was held on Mandela day in eSigodini area in partnership with Siyabonga Helping Hands. We came across a leaking water pipe and were able to teach the children about the importance of reporting leaks. In addition to collecting over 40 bags of waste, the Imbali Sewer Monitors joined us to clear Alien Invasive Plants in the area opposite Siyabonga Helping Hands, where we are creating a small P.E.A.C.E. Park for the Eco-Club members.
Three environmental days were held at Mfunze and Mafakatini involving over 300 people, and different organisations such as EDTEA (Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs), Umgeni Water, Msinsi, Department of Health, Red Cross and other local organisations, as well as community leaders. We conducted a miniSASS activity and clean-up activity and led a discussion about the poor condition of the local stream.


Duct Education Unit 1 Duct Education Unit 2 Duct Education Unit 3



DUCT is assisting with the up-coming Canoe Marathon World Championships where they have identified up to 30 litter ‘hot-spots’. Full report and photographs in the next Newsletter!

Yours in conserving the Duzi and uMngeni Rivers,
The DUCT team