Litter washes out in golf course riverbed

2017-05-31 06:03
Ted Holden points to the litter that washed down the Ezembogintwini River, onto the Amanzimtoti golf course.Photos: tania sandberg

Ted Holden points to the litter that washed down the Ezembogintwini River, onto the Amanzimtoti golf course.Photos: tania sandberg

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS and golf course users are concerned about the litter washing out on the sides of the Amanzimtoti Country Club Country and Conservancy (Toti Golf Club) riverbed and Dakota Beach, as well as poorly treated sewage flowing into the river.

“Years before the big malls existed in our area, the Athlone Park sewage system had already been strained. The local sewerage plant then was able to cope with between 25 and at best 30 million litres a day of domestic waste, of that amount, the local plant at that time was forced to treat between seven and 10 million litres a day of waste.

“This includes sewage from the industrial Prospecton area,” said retired engineer, now conservancy co-ordinator, Ted Holden, who is assisting the golf club with environmental issues as a hobby. Holden added that industrial waste is also more harmful than domestic waste, and the local sewerage plant was not designed to treat heavy detergents, among other things. “An average of 27 million litres of waste water is treated by the waste water plant in a non-holiday season, then put into the river bordering the Amanzimtoti Golf Course, the Ezembogintwini River,” he added.

“The only way to prevent companies from dumping litter upstream or in the river would be to impose huge fines and to force them to be involved in a six-month clean up.

“They need to be named and shamed and reminded nature is not there as their disposal dump.

“Medical waste has been found among the litter, which is even more shameful.

“At times big chunks of black sludge can be seen floating in the river and has a bad smell as well. Unfortunately, when contacted, the municipality inspectors only arrive days later, normally after the rains and has already flooded into the sea,” said Holden.

When the estuary is blocked by tidal conditions, the river floods onto the golf course, and in the past, with no assistance from the municipality, the ground staff have to dig open the estuary.

Another concern is that most of the fish in the river die, resulting in many birds eating the fish and will die as well.

“The area lacks attention from the municipality, considering that as members we lease the area. It should be treated and maintained as pristine tourism and family area.

“We need them to assist us in making sure it is. The next golf course is on the Bluff. At the moment everything done on the golf course and property adjacent are done by members of the club who volunteers the help to the main committee and the green keeper and staff,” Holden said.

On the Dakota Beach side there are no signs warning people not to swim in the river and the mouth.

“The only positive side of this issue is that the sea has refused to accept a huge amount of the debris, generally dumped at the side of our two closing golf holes. How much more goes through only the beach cleaners will know and the dead marine life that gets washed up on the shoreline.”

Holden said easy access from the river the suburban roads, means brush-cutters and petrol machines and tools are stolen regularly, this is despite moving them to a locked facility away from the river and efforts by the course marshal and night-time security guards.


About 15 years ago, as chairman of the Athlone Park Civic Association, Holden invited Natal Parks Board member, Patrick Duncan, to talk to the golf club about forming a conservancy in Athlone Park.

Duncan advised them to register the golf course area as a conservancy. So said it was done and in 2002 the club was registered as a conservancy. Holden has since resigned as chairman of the civic group.

He said that while it was a good move, a conservancy was not the entire solution to what was needed environmentally. On top of the other concerns, the area had plenty of alien invasive plants and trees.

He consequently started a small voluntary committee, mostly non-golfers, which included Gill van Wyk and her contacts, with other environmentalists and the likes of Bruce Surmon and his Umbogintweni Scouts.

The aim is to enhance the indigenous tree footprint and eradicate alien invasive trees.

“Since 2002, I have made it a hobby and being retired can devote a lot more time to establishing the conservancy side of the club,” he said.

Begging has played a big part and obtaining willing help and gifts of young trees, along with being allowed, at first, a full-time gardener by the club, arranged and allocated by Mike MacGregor then chairman of the club.

MacGregor’s eldest son Ivan has sponsored and funded the gardener, Linda Mnguni for five years and enabled them to plant close on 2 000 trees indigenous trees on and around the club.

“The idea was by looking at the existing indigenous trees at each golf hole, then to add more of this type of tree at important positions like around the greens, tee boxes and 50, 100 and 150 markers points, then name the holes, according to the indigenous trees like Mahogany Drive, Elbizia Drop, and Coral Corner, etc.,” Holden said.

“In this way it was thought to be a way of helping our fellow golfers and visitors to recognise indigenous trees.

“By way of paying tribute to members who have made a significant contribution to the upliftment of the club, a special sign board resembling a tree is being placed on each hole as members or companies have requested this facility.

“Thus far we have five signs at a cost of R2 000 each and planted them at the relevant hole,” he added.

“In our greater eThekwini area it is significant to note that we boast 750 indigenous tree varieties, out of a total of 1 100 known varieties, that can be found in southern Africa. We live in such a rich, wonderful garden province, and need to get people to appreciate this. I would also like to call on the public to stop cutting down indigenous trees in settlement areas,” Holden said.



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