Time has flown and I have not let you all know that Mayday for Rivers – uMsunduzi River is taking shape. Much more low key than our last walk, but with the same objectives – to see first hand what is happening to the uMsunduzi River – fondly known by many as the Duzi.
Duzi Day One
Duzi Day One happened a few weeks ago, when I (Penny Rees) was summoned to ‘Maritzburg by Doug Burden, our DUCT manager. As my son Breandan was visiting me at the time, the two of us reported early one Saturday morning to the river bank at the YMCA in Pietermaritzburg. As I am not a canoeist, the word trepidation defined my feelings – we were to paddle this stretch. I need not have worried, our trusty mode of transport turned out to be two 3 man inflatables. Breandan and Dave Still, (DUCT Chairman) accompanied me in one canoe, whilst Doug, Stembiso & Nicholas (River Care Teams) paddled the other canoe.
These were interspersed with areas so choked with invasive plants that they are impenetrable, and no sign can be seen of whatever indigenous vegetation is underneath! Dave kept telling me to slow down with photos, as I was shooting away madly. He was worried I wouldn’t have any space left on my camera for what he described as the best photos.
On a steep slope with thick indigenous bush. we spotted 4 young puppies, with their mother not far away – they seemed to have come down the steep slope from houses above, and we passed quite a few fishermen on the banks.
Dave decided that our boat would shoot the weir, and as we shot over the top we heard Doug shouting and looked back to see Stembiso and Nicholas hot on our trail, shooting the weir whilst Doug still stood on the bank. The huge smiles on their faces were uplifting to see – and probably mirrored mine.
And then we sobered up very fast. The river is overhung by bush and many trees, each of which is bedecked with thousands of scraps that have tangled on the branches during floods. Plastic rubbish, material – old clothes and rags, the odd plastic chair and crate, it was an unbelievable scene.
The mixed blessing is that once all the invasive trees are cleared there will be nothing for the rubbish to hook on – that’s the plus side. On the negative side, all that rubbish will then just keep on a floating down the river. Maybe a place somewhere where a trash boom could be erected to catch it?
It was an eye opener to see the (in)famous Darvill Waste Water Works, with a different system of releasing water into the river to what I am used to in Howick. A series of what can only be described as wide concrete steps leads down to the river, with the water tumbling over them – presumably to oxygenate the water.
A pair of Egyptian Geese accompanied us for a long way, swimming always a few metres in front of the lead canoe. Our end point was in stunning Bushveld, the river water seemed to be clearer and it was hard to believe how the river had changed as we came down.
Duzi One done and dusted!