Durban, South Africa River Health Monitoring Programme
Status: Run from 2005 - 2006
The River Health Monitoring Programme (RHP), was initiated by the Environmental Management Department (EMD) to develop a baseline for the ecological state of the eThekwini Municipal Area (EMA) rivers. Through the assessment of the biological communities (i.e. fish, aquatic invertebrates, riparian vegetation and river habitats), the gap in understanding of the local fresh water environment as identified by the eThekwini State of Environment (SOE) Report could be bridged. There are 17 major river catchments in the EMA. These catchments are a key asset for the city, in terms of water based tourism and recreation and they are a key resource in the delivery of environmental goods and services.
The first River Health Monitoring Report, completed in June 2006, identified several areas of Durban’s river and catchment systems that are in poor conditions in terms of water quality, flow, riparian vegetation, and in stream biodiversity. These areas are thus impaired in their capacity to provide essential ecosystem services such as flood attenuation and clean water for our urban and rural communities. Forecasted climate change will further exacerbate these conditions
The River Health Monitoring programme identifies the need for local stakeholders, industries, municipal departments, communities, and councilors to get involved in activities that will improve the function of their local catchments.
A comparison of the results of the river-based components of the strategic catchment assessment (2002) and the 2006 River health survey identified the key trends in river condition between 2002 and 2006.