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R75 million river system maintenance plan gets under way as winter approaches

City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation team cleaning the river system at Westlake River ahead of the rainy season. Picture: CoCT

City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation team cleaning the river system at Westlake River ahead of the rainy season. Picture: CoCT

Published May 16, 2022


Cape Town - As winter approaches, the City’s R75 million river system maintenance plan has got under way.

The aim is to clean and prepare river systems to accommodate the increased flow of winter rainwater expected to enter inland waterways over the upcoming rainy season.

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In light of this, the City’s Water and Sanitation teams set out to clean the river system at Westlake River.

“The City’s river system assets are extensive and comprising canals, rivers, culverted rivers and tributaries, ponds, riverine wetlands, vleis, and stormwater dams,” Water and Waste Mayco member Zahid Badroodien said.

The City budgeted R75m for the maintenance plan to clean these river systems in the 2022/2023 financial year. To date, R54m of the R70m available budget for this financial year has been spent.

The Westlake River was one of three river systems (including Keysers and Sand Rivers) that drained the eastern slopes of the South Peninsula mountain chain and feed the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve the bulk of its freshwater.

The estuary is a fish hatchery, nursery, and habitat for many animals and thus ridding pollution and harmful vegetation from these river systems was critical.

“It was great to see the ongoing effort being put into cleaning the Westlake River and reports of work also being down at other parts of our river system to ensure these assets are able to accommodate the increased capacity of rainwater that is expected to come during winter,” Badroodien said.

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Westlake River ahead of the rainy season. | COCT

Zandvlei Trust executive committee member Martin Struthmann said river clean-ups were vital as winter rains flushed litter through the rivers into the vlei. He commended the City’s clean-up in and around the Westlake River.

However, he said the same needed to be done for the Sand River canal as much more litter came down after rains.

Struthmann said the Zandvlei Trust managed nets across the Sand River canal to try and catch litter which was flushed down.

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“We are very concerned about the repeated contamination of the vlei with sewage spills which comes down the Westlake and Sand Rivers. This is also toxic to wildlife and will eventually result in a loss of wildlife diversity,” Struthmann said.

Badroodien urged residents to stop using river systems as dumping grounds for waste, including unwanted furniture, car parts and other waste items, and to make use of the solid waste services provided by Urban Waste Management Directorate.

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