2016 FNB Dusi Canoe
Dusi digs in as drought takes grip of KZN
Pietermaritzburg - As the province of KwaZulu-Natal squares up to the
reality of the worst drought since the turn of the century, the FNB Dusi
Canoe Marathon has thrown its weight behind the efforts by the region to
manage its dwindling water resources optimally.
This week Umgeni Water held high level meetings with representatives of the
municipalities of uMgungundlovu, uMsunduzi and eThekwini to discuss options
to try and reduce business and domestic water consumption by 15%.
Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said that the dams in the
uMngeni System were critically low and at their lowest levels in three
decades, and warned that CSIR forecasts pointed to no significant rainfall
for the next six months.
The FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place on the uMsundusi and uMngeni Rivers
from 18 to 20 February and the organisers and participants are facing up to
the impact of the drought head on.
“Yes, as paddlers, the effect of the low rivers will be felt during the race
but we see this in the broader context of the serious water crisis that is
facing the region and embrace it as a challenge,” said FNB Dusi General
Manager, Brett Austen Smith.
“We organise events on these rivers for just a handful of days a year but we
have an obligation to consider those who rely on these river systems every
day of their lives for drinking water, washing and cleaning, let alone the
farmers who are battling to irrigate their crops and provide water and food
for their livestock,” he added.
Austen Smith quickly pointed out that the luxury of water releases was a
relatively new phenomenon in the 64 year history of the event and that the
vast majority of the races had been run on rivers “as you find them on the
“We accept that the conditions will make the FNB Dusi hard this year, but
then the Dusi has never been easy. It never pretends to be easy at all and
is called the “Ultimate Canoe Challenge” for good reason!” explained Austen
“Paddlers who have been part of this race for a long time are looking
forward to the challenge of an ‘old school’ Dusi.
“Water is a precious resource and one that cannot be squandered.
“We fully understand this and we shoulder the responsibility, along with
every other South African, of trying to address the crisis.
“As an event we want to find a way that we can contribute positively and
meaningfully to ease the hardship that this drought is causing.
“But, we also want to explore ways that we can contribute towards dealing
with the effects of this drought during the race,” said Austen Smith.
In recent years the race has been able to take advantage of water from the
small Henley Dam outside Pietermaritzburg for the first two days of the
race, but this dam, which usually fills quickly in the summer, is two-thirds
“We have to be responsible about this water,” said Austen Smith. “Water that
is released from Henley goes straight into Inanda Dam, so none of it is
“The problem we have is that because of the poor rainfall, the dam is not
filling as it usually does.”
“The level of Henley Dam is currently 67%," said Umgeni Water’s Corporate
Stakeholder Manager, Shami Harichunder, after meeting with the Dusi
organisers to discuss the drought crisis.
"The water to be released from it would bolster the level of the uMsundusi
River, thereby assisting canoeists.
“The amount to be released will be the same as last year,” added Harichunder.
Austen Smith said that they would cancel the planned release of water from
Henley Dam for the pre-Dusi TWK Dash n Crash races on Saturday, 30 January
to ensure that there was water to introduce into the river system during the
“We fully grasp this and throw our weight behind Umgeni Water as they
wrestle with the drought crisis.
“It will make the FNB Dusi a proper challenge this year and this Dusi medal
is one that any serious Dusi paddler will prize!” he added.
Dam levels (as at 21 January)
Henley Dam 68,86%
Albert Falls Dam 37,59%
Nagle Dam 85,85%
Inanda Dam 80,35%
The FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift, Pietermaritzburg
to Blue Lagoon, Durban from 18-20 February 2016. More
information can be found at www.dusi.co.za
Click to download the hi-res
FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon logo (Landscape) - GIF
FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon logo
(Portrait) - GIF
FNB Dusi General Manager Brett
Austen Smith says the race will adapt to the conditions created by the
“Water is a precious resource and one that cannot be squandered,” said
Austen Smith. “We fully understand this and we shoulder the responsibility,
along with every other South African, of trying to address the crisis.”
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