Paddling the city’s waterways

Over 80 paddlers joined the fourth Peninsula Paddle from UCT’s Future Water Institute in Muizenberg on Sunday June 11, to celebrate the recent rainfall and refreshment that this brought to Cape Town’s dire waterways.

The Peninsula Paddlers journeyed from Muizenberg to Milnerton paddling and dragging kayaks through canals, rivers and vleis over a distance of about 15 kilometres.

Along the way the paddlers got a close up view of the city’s waterways which were filled with months of litter, aquatic weeds and contaminated water.

This year paddlers were joined by Greg Bertish, an author, adventurer and fundraiser for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital who managed to sail and paddle through the waterways in his “Optimist” dinghy.

The dinghy was named after Greg’s children’s book called The Little Optimist which is all about his big heart and his journey through a life-threatening medical condition.

The City of Cape Town’s Sports and Recreation Department brought 30 young people from Steenberg and areas along the route to the paddle.

Every participant had to prove their ability on the water by attending a series of practice outings held at Zandvlei before the event.

“The programme is encouraging young people to take an interest in waterways and to enjoy the fun of paddling these river corridors,” said the Peninsula Paddle creator, Dr Kevin Winter.

“The Peninsula Paddle raises a critical message that the health of the city is seen in its waterways. The waterways are blue and green corridors that are the veins of the city connecting well-established suburbs to some of the poorest parts of the city.

“We all share the waterways. What gets discarded and poured into stormwater drains will finds its way to the sea. There was plenty of evidence that tons of trash, plastics and other materials had being flushed out to sea from the rain last week. The failure to prevent litter from entering the waterways has reached epic proportions,” said Dr Winter.

According to Dr Winter, solid waste which gets into the water, is almost impossible to get out. Dr Winter said that the City will have to continue funding its extended public works programme to keep cleaning and maintaining the waterways, but the extent of the challenge is overwhelming the City’s resources.

“In the long term that is unlikely to be sustainable. The big challenge is to find new ways of enabling citizens to enjoy and value these waterways, a long-term vision of the Peninsula Paddle,” said Dr Winter.