Walking the Lion’s River

The Midlands Conservancies Forum believes that protecting the water catchment on which millions of people rely for their daily water is absolutely critical.  An approach to N3 Toll Concession earlier this year, confirmed that they too care about the well being of communities alongside the N3 Route and were keen to support efforts to raise awareness of the plight of our rivers. The Mayday for Rivers team, lead by Penny Rees who walked 311 kms along the Mngeni River last year, begin to explore the Lion’s River this weekend.  Documenting their journey, recording alien vegetation and other impacts, to produce a complete picture of the health of the river.

r Lion's River

Penny Rees commments: “The campaign in May 2012 made it quite evident that the Mngeni river has many negative impacts along its length. The team have reported on these impacts, and made recommendations of possible intervention actions that can be taken to resolve and remove many of the impacts. However they observed that many of these impacts originate in the Mngeni tributaries, and it is thus essential to be able to identify negative impacts on the tributaries. Without this knowledge, working purely on the Mngeni River, will be ineffective.  The methodology will be precisely the same as that of the 2012 Mngeni River walk. We will record by means of photograph, Dictaphone and GPS all impacts seen and in addition will conduct regular water Mini SASS tests. After the walks, reports will be compiled on our findings, in the same format as the main 240 page report on the uMngeni River walk undertaken in May 2012 and we will also compile reports for landowners.”

r Lion's River

Due to development and growth of invasive alien plants in the catchment, the flows in our rivers have dwindled and the pollution load increased.  With the removal of, and damage to natural ecosystems that filter pollutants, attenuate floods and release water during drought periods, the quantity and quality of water in these rivers has been affected to the point where there is no longer any assimilative capacity.  The result is water that is severely polluted by sewage as well as runoff from agricultural and industrial developments and rivers that alternately flood or dry up to a trickle of their former flows.  This affects our ability to adapt to climate change and the requirements to provide food and work for our burgeoning urban population.

After walking the Lion’s River, the team intend to make this information available to landowners and other stakeholders and then  proceed to the other tributaries as time and funding become available – Karkloof, Dargle, Furth, Indezi, Gwenspriut, Symmonds Stream. Rietspruit, Mpofana and Yarrow.

The N3 Route is the major ‘artery’ to Durban, pivotal to economic and social development.  The Mngeni River and it’s tributaries (the KZN Catchment) are often called the ‘lifeblood’ of KZN and the connections between these two visual symbols of prosperity and well-being make this an ideal partnership.  Particularly, as N3TC is a major sponsor of the world renowned Midmar Mile and shares a concern that the viability of the event could very easily be threatened by poor water quality.

This project provides a unique opportunity for N3TC to be directly involved in Conservation alongside the N3 Route and contribute to protecting essential ecosystems services and biodiversity.  The MCF provides an inspirational example of collaborative conservation and community cooperation and has the potential to be replicated in other areas between Cedara and Heidelberg where N3TC is involved.

Follow the River Walkers on their blog: www.umngeniriverwalk.wordpress.com or on our facebook page: facebook/midlandsconservanciesforum

r lions river vlei

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