The Mlalazi estuary has been selected by the Department of Water Affairs as one of 18 estuaries in South Africa to be monitored in a three-year pilot project which will lead to the development of a management plan for every estuary in the country.
The programme – to be known as the National Estuaries Monitoring Programme (NESMP) – will be a joint project between government departments, municipalities and local environmental bodies and it will monitor changes and trends in water quality and estuarine ecology.
The Mlalazi was chosen not only because its relatively pristine condition is now threatened by residential development and mining in its catchment area but also because of the strong track record of the Mtunzini Conservancy in local environmental affairs.
The Mtunzini Conservancy could act as the appropriate body to co-ordinate the monitoring initiative on a local level, said Gerhard Cilliers of the Department of Water Affairs’ Resource Quality Services.
“This may also pave the way and act as a strong driver, for the future establishment of an estuary management forum and the subsequent drafting of an estuary management plan in collaboration with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and other stakeholders.”
The Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act No. 24 of 2008), requires the drafting of an estuary management plan for each estuary in South Africa and central to this is the establishment of an estuary management forum where all stakeholders are represented.
The Department of Water Affairs will provide initial funds for water quality analysis and possible future funding for further monitoring. It is however important to ‘share the bill’ in order to make best use of available funding, said Mr Cilliers.
This will not only include other government departments, but also assistance by the local community through the Mtunzini Conservancy, to provide logistical support and manpower to assist with sample collection and co-ordination of the monitoring effort on a local scale.
The Department will in turn provide relevant technical training and annual feedback to the Conservancy on the state of the estuary.
Mtunzini Conservancy Spring News letter