Cape Town - Clearing non-indigenous, water-guzzling plants is a key component of the City's Water Strategy, as this crucial activity creates resilient waterways that will continue to supply residents with the water needed for years to come.
The City's Water and Sanitation Directorate is now celebrating the massive strides made by the Greater Cape Town Water Fund (GCTWF) to clear alien invasive plants over the past three years, and help secure water in the city’s catchment areas as they work towards ensuring our resilient water-future.
In keeping with this commitment, the collective progress of the GCTWF, across the seven priority sub-catchments including Theewaterskloof, Berg River, Wemmershoek and Steenbras dams and the core area of the Atlantis Aquifer, is celebrating the following milestones from April 2019 to March 2023:
- More than 40 790 hectares of alien invasive plants cleared;
- Up to 13.1 billion litres of water saved a year, thanks to this clearing; and
- 722 green employment opportunities created
Scientific reports have shown that over 55 billion litres of water – about two months’ water for Cape Town – is being lost every year to invasive alien plants such as pines, gums and wattles in the city’s dam catchments.
This loss is expected to reach 100 billion litres of water every year, within 20 years, if not taken care of.
The GCTWF was launched in response to this challenge, bringing together various stakeholders, including the City, Cape Nature, South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Working on Fire High Altitude Teams (WoF-HAT) to get workers on the ground.
With the aim to remove alien plant species from key parts of several dam catchments, more water is expected to reach the dams that supply Cape Town’s residents.
Mayco Member for Water and Sanitation, Zahid Badroodien said: “The City is very happy to see the progress that has been made over the past three years, particularly since July 2021, to clear alien invasive plants from across the sub-catchments of the Wemmershoek, Steenbras, Berg River and the Atlantis Aquifer core area.
“As we approach the end of the 2022/23 financial year, we are excited to see the final 434 hectares being cleared in these catchments. This means by the end of June the City contributed to clearing a total of 12 487 hectares, saving eight million litres of water per day.
“A further R75 million will be committed to the clearing of invasive alien plants over the next three years. This remains the most affordable of all of the schemes making up part of the New Water Programme.
“This is the most cost-effective and sustainable nature-based solution to secure our water supply and meet future water demands. Another exciting aspect is the job opportunities that have been created and workers being upskilled during this project.
“It is no easy task for teams on the ground who are doing the clearing in very mountainous areas, so we are grateful for their contribution to saving water.”