Nick’s appointment bodes well for our canals

Meet Nick Bode, the new holder of the MDGA ExCom’s Waterways portfolio. We recently caught up with him for a Q&A about life in the Marina and what he hopes to achieve in his new role.

Caution: plain speaking ahead.

How long have you lived in the Marina? 

Around two years currently, but I also lived here for about 18 months a decade or so ago. 

What do you like best about living here?

I’m fishing mad, so the water. I love living in Marina da Gama as opposed to Parks da Gama or Forest da Gama. So, let’s see more people caring for our waterways.

What is your day job?

I build, repair, and install custom modifications to boats.

You have strong views on where vlei management has gone wrong. Can you summarise the key obstacles to restoring healthy water quality?

Before I blame management, I must also point out that 80% of the residents who get to enjoy this amazing place don’t actually do anything to improve it.

Yes, too much trash from other areas gets into the vlei via the rivers. Yes, sewerage flows in with all the trash. But, as residents, we must stop blocking the sewerage line with non-flushable items. I know of at least six sewerage leaks over the last two years that could easily have been prevented if people had not disposed of ‘foreign objects’ down the drain, putting even more pressure on our ageing sewerage pumps. 

Another obstacle is that the local organisations don’t talk to each other anymore. They all seem to be working against each other rather than working together as one unit.

Residents must clean up the weed and litter in front of their own properties. No-one polices whether this gets done and people have this amazing attitude that someone else will do it for them. They’ve never done it before, so why should they now?

The water is ours to enjoy, but I see it the same way I see security. Government has let us down in this area and we were forced to set up neighbourhood watches and employ private security companies to keep ourselves safe. If we want to take our waterways back, it’s time we did it ourselves as a community. Or employ a company to do it for us. 

Meanwhile, the vlei managers are doing all they can will the limited resources that local government has made available.

As for the ageing Kingfisher… I’m not going to say anything more about it. 

What are your immediate priorities as MDGA’s point man on waterways?

I already work with Kyran Wright, who manages the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve (ZENR), and have meetings almost weekly about the waterways. Looking ahead, we need to think differently because it is clear that nothing from the past has worked. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of madness. Here are some immediate action points:

– Urgently look into finding local volunteers to help manage the waterways and employ staff with their own boats to clean them

– Install aerators in key areas of the Marina to promote more movement in the water column, especially in every blind bay canal

– Install current thrusters to promote water circulation 

– Promote the waterways and get more residents actively involved in maintenance. 

All these measures have produced fantastic results in other countries, where communities have stood up and worked together. Lots of people I’ve spoken to would like to use our waterways more, but don’t enjoy getting their props stuck in the weeds. 

You have been upfront about the MDGA Excom’s shortcomings. How do you intend to fix them?

By working with other organisations that share our aims. Setting up alert programmes to inform residents ASAP about sewerage spills in the Marina due to a clogged up pumps. By asking residents to help relieve pressure on pump stations by immediately preventing grey water from entering the sewage network.

ExCom also need to communicate more about what residents’ levies actually get spent on. People need reminding of the benefits the ExCom delivers what it is doing to make thing better for our community as a whole. 

Anything else?

I want to see more people with motorboats out on the water! I want to see more kids out fishing, kayaking, or sailing!