ALIEN VEGETATION TO BE CLEARED FOR MORE WATER
A R2,3-million project as a first phase to eventually rid the catchment area of the Moordkuils River from alien vegetation and in doing so increase the availability of water from the river is due to commence in the vicinity of Little Brak River towards the end of October 2010.
The Municipality pumps water from the Moordkuils River into the Klipheuwel Dam, which is one of four reservoirs in the municipal area from which the Municipality supplies water to consumers. Farmers are also entitled to pump water from the river.
The funds were made available after numerous applications by the Municipality to the Department of Water Affairs for the remainder of its financial year to the end of March 2011. According to the Department the grant has been made with a view to a long-term clearing programme for the area, which has high concentrations of black wattle trees. Other types of alien vegetation are also present.
Alien trees such as the above are estimated conservatively to absorb on average between 100 and 150 litres of water a day. The absorption rate depends on the size of the trees and can be as much as 600 litres a day.
The project will initially focus on the riparian zones of the river’s catchment area. The size of the catchment area, including the riparian zones, is 23 850 hectares in total.
It is planned to employ fifteen contracting teams consisting of eleven members each on the project. These are existing and experienced teams from the area that have received the required training in chainsaw operation, application of herbicides, first aid, health and safety and relevant general work. The training is required to ensure full compliance to prescribed health and safety principles. Because of the urgency of the project the training of new or additional teams could not be considered.
The project will be managed by the Eden District Municipality in terms of the Department of Water Affairs’ work-for-water programme. The teams will work from the commencement date to 23 December 2010 and resume work on 3 January 2011.
“I am very delighted at this development. We have been trying for some time to address the problem of alien vegetation in the river’s catchment area as the loss of water through alien vegetation has been a cause for concern to us for a long time. The present drought has reminded us how quickly a water supply situation can change for the worse, and that every effort should be made to preserve water and minimise losses.
“Although the grant covers the period to the end of the Department of Water Affairs’ current financial year, the Department’s indication that it is part of a longer term clearing programme is very encouraging.
“The Municipality will also make every effort possible to obtain additional funds from other sources to maintain and expand the project until the whole catchment area has been covered. This should improve our ability to cope with possible future water shortages,” said the Municipal Manager of Mossel Bay, Dr Michele Gratz.