Duct to send in ‘hit squad’ to clean up Msunduzi River

2012-07-11 00:00

MANY alien weeds in the Msunduzi River, along with litter and sewage, have not much more than a month left before a “hit squad” comes to take them out.

The river’s “saviours” have set out once before and will set out again to remove all the river’s unwanted intruders.

Over the years the Msunduzi’s waters have become infested with harmful alien weeds and by sewage systems that have been leaking for years — unattended by the respective municipalities.

“The open manholes are bubbling away,” said Doug Burden, general manager of Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (Duct).

September will see Duct members and volunteers embark on an 128 km river walk aimed at removing the large amounts of litter and harmful aquatic weeds.

The clean-up crew said many new crops of weeds were found daily.

They have identified the two main culprits. Kariba weed and water lettuce are infiltrating the river at an alarming rate, endangering the wellbeing of indigenous plants and blocking the river’s pumps.

The proliferation of these plants and their overpowering presence were of paramount concern, said Burden. Sewage too has consistently polluted the river.

The water is toxic and unhealthy to both cattle and local communities who rely on the Msunduzi as a source of water, said Burden.

“We do not know the long-term effects,” said Burden, but we can only predict that it can’t be good.

Burden said one of Duct’s main aims was “restoration and stabilisation” of areas that the organisation had already dealt with.

Restoring the health of the water with the use of trash booms was a successful way of herding the destructive vegetation into a zone, hopefully for permanent removal.

Once completed, the job of stabilising and maintaining the restored river and surrounding land is to be handed over to the local schools, communities and municipalities, Burden said, because “we can’t do it forever”.

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