miniSASS brings awareness in Pietermaritzburg’s Baynespruit!!! Well done to the Baynespruit Rehabilitation Project!!!

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miniSASS Newsletter: October 2014

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Makana Environews: Landfill fires and citizen science

Fires continue to burn at the Grahamstown landfill site, generating toxic smoke that is breathed by all who live downwind. This is occurring despite the fact that the site is fenced and guarded around the clock.
Recently the Masahlule Recycling Business, which had created employment and helped Grahamstown to reduce its landfill waste, suffered two burglaries rendering a large part of their business inoperative. This is disheartening for all those involved in this project.
Recently, a small group of concerned individuals and representatives of Masahlule met with representatives of the Makana Municipality to discuss the ongoing woes of the landfill site.
Mark Price, of Integrated Waste & Recycling Services (IWARS), made it clear that a similar recycling operation at the Port Alfred landfill site was running smoothly and put it down to better security and control of the site.
Masahlule is now looking to change its modus operandi, with a view to running the business as a Buy-Back Centre in the future. This means that all recyclable waste picked from the site would be sold to Masahlule, which would then bale it and sell it on to recycling businesses.
Johann Esterhuizen, assistant director of Environmental Health and Cleansing, said that the municipality was committed to putting out fires as soon as they start burning. The municipality still needs to deliver on this promise, however, and a hotline to report fires might help. Garden refuse on the site keeps the fires burning, and there is potentially scope for setting up an Integrated Development Plan-linked composting project.
The Recycling Forum will meet again in early March to hear of progress made with regard to site security and future plans for Masahlule. We also hope that the weighbridge will soon be in action.

For more information: Simpiwe Mngcongo,; 076 582 1541.

Are you concerned about the health of your local stream or river? School and environmental and community groups countrywide use miniSASS to measure the general water quality of streams and rivers.
In a ground-breaking and award-winning development, the new miniSASS website now includes an interactive Google Earth map and database, which allows miniSASS users of all ages to explore their catchment, find their river and then upload their miniSASS results.
This feature, pioneered by Ground Truth and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), literally puts citizen science on to the map! River health data (including your local urban streams) can be contributed by all in a fun and easy way, with the results visible for the rest of the world to see.
A simple-to-use assessment system, miniSASS is records the presence of macro-invertebrates (small animals) living in a flowing stream/river, using identification guides that can be downloaded from the miniSASS website. The sensitivity of different organisms to water quality is used to determine a score which reflects the condition of your stream. (Note: miniSASS does not determine if the water is safe to drink.)
That done, you can go to the miniSASS website, find your stream on the Google Earth map, enter your results and your score appears as a colour-coded crab on the map indicating the stream’s health. Results are interactive and can be updated. For more about miniSASS and using the map, go to
Other water quality resources can be downloaded from the website of our local ‘water watch’ group, the Kowie Catchment Campaign at
Find us Online:

Contacts for Makana Enviro-News:
Nikki Köhly:, 046 603 7205 | Jenny Gon:, 046 622 5822 | Trisha Nathoo:, 078 584 9496 | Nick James:, 082 575 9781 | Philip Machanick:, 046 603 8635 | Strato Copteros:, 082 785 6403

miniSASS Newsletter: July 2014


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The WRC Eco-School miniSASS Challenge

The Water Research Commission has launched a nationwide challenge to schools.

The Challenge: To have highly informed water decision-making through science and technology at schools and for wider stakeholder groups and to develop innovative water solutions through practical, hands-on research that develops sustainable solutions.

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Fill in this entry form and stand a chance to win!!!!

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Nunu Of The Month: The Other Mayflies

Other Mayflies

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Ephemeroptera

Mayfly larvae are the “cows” of freshwater streams and graze on algae. They swim by moving their abdomen up and down. The adult mayfly doesn’t eat at all and lives only for a few hours or days.

The other mayflies are a large group and they vary significantly. The common physical traits include three elongated tails, an elongated body, a large head, well developed mouth parts and true legs. Other mayflies have their gills on their abdomen, there is variation between the shape and the location of the gills.

The other mayflies are the cainflies which have a skirt like covering of the gills, the flat-headed mayfly that has a head broader than their body, the prongills that have gills with a unique shape and the stout crawlers that have very thick and stout arms. Others also include the brushlegged mayflies, pale burrowers and the water specs.

Other mayflies are the cows of the rivers as they graze on the algae and plant matter that grows on the rocks and on the floor in-stream. They breathe using the gills and move by swimming and crawling. The other mayflies are part of the diet of small fish, trout, frogs and birds. With a score of 11 on the miniSASS, other mayflies are moderately sensitive to pollution.

Mayflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis as they do not have a pupal stage. This involves passing through 3 life stages which are egg, nymph and adult. Each of these stages requires that the mayfly remain close to the water, the nymph is entirely aquatic whilst the adult is not aquatic but always stays close to the water.

miniSASS at the DWAS Youth Water Summit 2014

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DM Pam Tshwethe during th Walking For Water March

The Department of Water and Sanitation in South Africa hosts a Youth Water Summit every year since 2010; this summit is strategically placed in the youth month of South Africa, June, every year as a key activity of the departments 2020 Vision Programme. The summit started on the 29th of June with a 2km Walk for Water around the conference venue where all the conference delegates held cards with unique messages relating to the management of natural water resources. The new Deputy Minister Pam Tshwete officially opened the summit and welcomed all guests.


In School Youth doing miniSASS at the Modderfontein River


Fundisa For Change Educators doing the Cathcment Management poster

Fundisa For Change Educators doing the Cathcment Management poster

The Department of Water and Sanitation through the Water Research Commission invited GroundTruth Water Wetlands and Environmental Engineering to form part of the Youth Water Summit 2014. Our role was to introduce citizen science tools on field. The one day involved a field trip where by both the In School Youth and the Fundisa for Change educators were taken to the Modderfontein River for a miniSASS expedition. This was followed by a catchment management game as well as an exercise using the clarity tube to introduce the various impacts that lead to turbid waters in South Africa. For the out of school youth we brought the macroinvertebrates from a river to the venue in order to demonstrate miniSASS and introduce it as a citizen science.
A miniSASS competition was launched during the DWAS Youth Water Summit. A competition seeking to engage schools in South Africa to learn about their river and basic catchment management through the use of miniSASS as a citizen science and further to upload their results onto the miniSASS website and database There will be more detail on the competition and how to enter as soon.

We thank the Department of Water and Sanitation and Water Research Commission for affording us this great opportunity as well as the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA) for all of the assistance through out the field day ensuring a successful event.

nunu of the month – Damselfly


Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Odonata

Sub-Order: Zygoptera

Damselflies have deceiving names as they are carnivorous predators. Damselflies can be found swimming or hunting on the vegetation. They have good eyesight and a modified lower lip called the mask. This mask is used to catch prey, it lies folded under the head and is released when catching prey. This is an identification feature as it differs in teeth arrangements and incisions.

The three tail-like appendages are gills called caudal lamellae and these are used for identification as they differ in shape, patterns and size. damselflies are relatively sensitive to pollution with sensitivity scores ranging from 4 to 10.

Damselflies undergo complete metamorphoses which means that in their life cycle the egg hatches into the larva which does not look like the adult and it matures into the adult.

Citizens indispensable in modern biodiversity protection

The article as it appears on The Water Wheel on the May/June 2014 volume 13 No 3 issue.

Get the whole publication online:






Eqhweni Primary (Injasuthi) in Drakensberg host Water week Workshop and Award Ceremony For UThukela Eco-Schools

The great work being done by our partners from WESSA Eco-Schools!


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miniSASS is a comminity river health monitoring tool

Aquatic Insects of Central Virginia

miniSASS is a comminity river health monitoring tool

River Walks

Journeys from the Source to the Sea