A municipal worker cleans the Mocke River in Diep River of alien vegetation. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.
A municipal worker cleans the Mocke River in Diep River of alien vegetation. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

Western Cape clears 10 000 hectares of alien vegetation

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Feb 24, 2021

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Cape Town - Ten thousand hectares of land, stretching across seven critical mountain water catchment areas in the province and the Atlantis Aquifer, has been cleared of invasive alien plants, according to Local Government and Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell.

Bredell said: “A total of R 21.3 million has been invested by several partners within a collaborative, pioneering partnership over the past 12 months to reach this milestone.”

The partnership includes the Nature Conservancy, a global agency, CapeNature, the City of Cape Town, WWF South Africa and Working On Fire.

“The work that has been done to date, is delivering a sustainable yield of 4.8 billion litres of water per year,” said Bredell.

The programme was launched in 2018, the same year Cape Town came close to running out of water.

Bredell said: “The programme has also led to the creation of 100 green jobs, including the training of 57 high-altitude rope technicians, to work in the rugged remote mountains where they are removing the invasive pines, wattles and gums.”

Bredell said: “The programme ultimately aims to clear 54 300 hectares across the catchments, and 5 000 hectares across the Atlantis Aquifer. The effort will not only free up some 14.5 billion litres of water for Cape Town each year but also reduce the risk of wildfire and restore native wildlife habitat.”

Meanwhile, despite a week-on-week decline of over 1% on dam levels in the province recently, the department of water and sanitation (DWS) says there is no cause for concern as a decrease is normal for this time of year.

DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: “The over 1% week on week decline on dam levels in the Western Cape is consistent with hot temperatures of January and February.”

Ratau said: “The Theewaterskloof, which is the largest dam in the province, is hovering above 80%, a remarkable improvement as compared to 60% at the same time last year.”

“The Breede Valley catchment system is very stable at over 60%, a notable increase as compared to 45.7% at the same time last year,” said Ratau.

“The department is rehabilitating the Kwaggaskloof Dam in that region to boost water supply. This is a project which is poised to create the much-needed local job opportunities,” said Ratau.

“However, the Gouritz River system has once again not received adequate summer rainfall to recharge the dam and remains a concern,” said Ratau.

Mayco member for Water and Waste Xanthea Limberg said: “Cape Town dam levels decreased by 2% in the last week from 80% to 78%. At the same time last year, dam levels were at 66.3%.”

“Daily water consumption for the same period decreased to 803 million litres per day, compared to 807 million litres the week before,” said Limberg.

Cape Argus

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