Passionate about Protecting the Mpofana

The Mpofana River begins in Nottingham Road. Within 500m of the source the river disappears completely, due to a dam that does not release any water back into the stream. This set the stage for the remainder of the Mpofana River Walk last month, which, apart from a few small areas, is heavily impacted along its entire length.

The DUCT River Walk team (supported by Midlands Conservancies Forum and funded by N3TC) recorded. photographed and conducted regular tests – Mini SASS is a general indicator of river health, Meth Blue either confirms or eliminates bacterial infection and Turbidity indicates levels of suspended solids in the water.

Downstream of the dam and dried up stream, a wetland fed by other streams revived the watercourse, but after only a few hundred metres the river hit the next impact – the pipeline construction of the Mooi-uMngeni Transfer scheme. For the entire length after this the water level remained very low.

Negative impacts observed within the legally required 32 metre riparian buffer zone included: Timber plantations that literally suck up the water leaving the stream dry. Livestock that access the river to drink causing erosion on the river banks and stirring up sediment. The sediment blocks the sunlight, reducing the visibility for water creatures to forage and changes the river habitat entirely. Much of the river bank is smothered under alien invasive plants. Wattles shades the river and thus changes the water temperature, deposition of leaves and bark smothers the river bed and changes the water’s acidity level. Nutrification caused by fertilizers or by livestock result in algal blooms and layers of sludge that rob the water of oxygen.

Add the impacts of the inter-basin transfer pipeline – bulldozed river banks, unprotected slopes leading soil erosion, lack of control of emerging invasive weeds and this river is in serious trouble. The Mooi River water releases have already eroded the river banks causing heavy siltation. Without adequate protection measures, this will be exacerbated with the increased loads from the Spring Grove Dam.

The passionate Mpofana riverside residents, who belong to the Balgowan Conservancy, are determined to do what they can for this small river, and have started the enormous job of clearing the invasive plants along the river. This is very encouraging – these people understand that water does not come from a tap and that they are custodians of the water factories on which millions of people rely.

Read the entire story and see all the pictures on the River Walk blog: www.umngeniriverwalk.wordpress.com

N3TC Walking the Mpofana by Pandora Long ed145 oct14