Lotto largesse: nine teams tackling riverbanks revival

2010-10-15 00:00

PADDLERS in next February’s Dusi Canoe Marathon should notice a significant difference in and around the river thanks to an unusual source: the National Lottery Board.

River care teams established by the Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) and funded by the Lotto are up and running, reported Duct manager, Andrew Booth.

“The difference the teams are making is already visible and we’ve already had positive feedback from paddlers about this.”

Thanks to a Lotto grant, Duct has nine river care teams cleaning up the uMsunduzi and uMngeni rivers and their tributaries from Pietermaritzburg to Durban and the stretch between Howick and Mpophomeni.

Three teams are working in Pietermaritzburg, three in Durban, one in Howick and Mpophomeni, and two between Maritzburg and Durban.

Each team consists of a supervisor and about 10 team members and is equipped with a vehicle, brush-cutters, chainsaws, slashers and protective clothing and other gear.

They have been trained to use and maintain their equipment and to identify alien species. They are also receiving ongoing life skills training.

The teams have a specific stretch of river to work on, removing and controlling alien invasive water and land plants, removing rubbish from river banks and the water and inspecting sewer lines and stormwater discharge points for sewage and industrial spills. Several teams have already alerted authorities to illegal dumping sites and points where contaminating liquids have been discharged illegally into a stream or river.

“The alien vegetation clearing has also made the Msunduzi Municipality’s water and sanitation teams’ job easier, and in some cases, they have discovered manholes they never knew were there. Previously the bush was so thick they could not access the sewer pipeline,” Booth said.

The R15,8 million grant will support the river care programme for three years. “We plan to source funding to continue the project after that, as the imperative to care for our rivers is an ongoing one,” Booth added.

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