Plan to clean river

2008-08-28 00:00

A group of interested parties including an environmental NGO, local government and the Sobantu community have formed a group to try and clean up the city’s most polluted stream, the Baynespruit.

Echo reported yesterday that water quality of the stream is so bad that farmers in Sobantu cannot use the water to irrigate their crops.

The Baynespruit rises in Northdale and flows down to meet the uMsunduzi river just below Sobantu, opposite the Darvill sewage works, passing through the Willowton industrial area.

uMngeni Water (UW) has monitored the stream every week since 1990 and its results show that it is the most polluted stream in Pietermaritzburg. Nearly 75% of the time the stream has an E.

coli level above 5 000 counts per 100 ml; the safe level for swimming is 130 counts per 100 ml.

Ten percent of the time the count is above 100 000 per 100 ml, which makes it dangerous for anyone to come into contact with the water in the stream.

Because of frequent industrial spillages, the health of the stream’s ecosystem is chronically poor, with an average South African Scoring System score below three, meaning that it is “severely impacted”. A stream in fair condition scores five and pristine rivers score above seven.

The Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) with the support of UW, the Msunduzi Municipality and the Sobantu Environmental and Agricultural Forum (SEAF), has set up the Baynespruit Conservancy.

SEAF is an umbrella body that was established through the merging of the Sobantu Environmental Desk and the Sobantu Farmers’ Development Association.

Andrew Booth, general manager of Duct, said: “The worst industrial pollution occurs in the area between the bridge and the confluence. The conservancy aims to bring together all stakeholders, including industry and residents, to work together to improve the stream’s water quality.

“To do this we will provide an early warning system for sewer and storm water discharge problems, which means spills can be attended to quickly reducing the size of the spill and potentially saving the municipality money for extensive clean-up operations; remove alien invasive species growing along the stream banks; regularly remove litter and rubbish from the stream and its surroundings; and train school children, communities and industry representatives to monitor the stream’s health … ”

Booth said the area the conservancy will cover still needs to be confirmed, but it will go from the confluence of the Baynespruit and uMsunduzi river up to either the Greytown Bridge or further into Northdale.

On September 20, Duct is holding its annual Witness uMsunduzi-uMngeni Community River Care Day sponsored by Hulamin. On this day, interested parties will help to clean the uMsunduzi and uMngeni rivers and plant indigenous trees. For details, call Duct on 033 342 3012 or visit

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