In Flood

The Mhlangane tributary to the uMngeni River is in flood where it runs through River Horse Valley Business Estate.  This is the tributary which runs past the SPCA where we started of the last day of your river walk, in May.  Bart and Janine Fokkens took these pictures.

High school geography taught me (Penny)  that rivers, in their “youth” have a fairly straight course, are narrow, shallow, and steep with fast flowing water.


They mature, and in their “old age” they mellow – as they cross the coastal plain the gradient lessens and they begin to meander, the water spreading out into a wide, slow running river and at times spilling over onto floodplains with increased volumes of water from tributaries and heavy rainfall.


The original river course, where these photos were taken, was changed by means of backfilling with rubbish. This resulted in a narrowing of the river and  making it the worst section of landfill along the river. Whilst DUCT was making the walking path beside the river there (under water in some of the pics), they had to dig through glass and plastic in this section.


Then over the last 25 years business and factories have been built on the backfilled river bank and floodplain. Now they worry about flooding! So now plans are afoot to widen the river, ‘canalise’ is the technical term, bracing the banks with stone gabions to hold the banks and control the floods – basically reopen some of the original channel!

Why do they think its called a floodplain? Where did they think the water would go once the river was narrowed and the floodplain was built up!!!!!


This gives an idea of the depth of the river channel and the width of the bank under water yesterday. It is this north bank that will be widened.P1120571

As a friend said yesterday “Oh my.  How on earth did ‘we’ get to put men on the moon when we can’t even understand rivers and streams.  Oh, I remember – there is no river on the moon, that’s why…”  Another added “If man wanted to understand rivers and streams he should have put women on the moon – instead of seeing rocks he would have seen relationships.”


The photo above is taken looking towards Athlone bridge on the uMngeni in the estuary.  All this rubbish has come down storm water drains and will wash out to sea, and much will return on the high tide to the beaches, to be collected at dawn by teams who are passionate about caring for the oceans and beaches. A commonly heard statement is that “people litter, not plastic.” This is irrelevant – there is too much plastic period!


About Nikki Brighton

I live in Howick, between the river and the hills. I enjoy pre-dawn walks in the streets with my dog, sitting on the veranda with crochet and tea, and harvesting vegetables outside the kitchen door.
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One Response to In Flood

  1. Bart Fokkens says:

    I sent 20 staff into the area of the litter pic today and they collected some 400 bags which they also had to cart out to Riverside Road walking through slushy silty mud. Parks Dept came and collected immediately at 1pm after the tide had chased the workers off the low lying areas where the litter had collected. With Lazzie as the new Horticulturist and supervisor in the Durban North area we are starting off on a winning note. Fantastic cooperation.

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