Alien vegetation affects Berg River water quality

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 May 2011

It will cost in the region of R300 million to remove alien vegetation from the Berg River that’s drastically affecting the water quality.

The Berg River’s degraded ecosystem is not being managed correctly

The river – 294km long – runs through several agricultural communities and is an important element in the development of the tourism industry in areas between Franschhoek and Velddrif.

Iaan Badenhorst, manager and resident at the Berg River Resort, said debris (mainly logs) and alien vegetation were the biggest problems in the Paarl area.

“The vegetation takes oxygen out of the water and affects the ecosystem. The government needs to put money into solving the problem when it can still be solved. This river is essential to farmers.

“Their business depends on the quality of the water. If it isn’t right the EU cancels export contracts, which is a major loss to the farmer and the local economy,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Francis Steyn, said the river’s degraded ecosystem was not being managed correctly and would “drastically affect” human health, the rural economy and ecosystem if nothing was done. Continue reading

Mega litres of water needed to remove thirsty trees

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 July 2010

The biggest challenge facing Grahamstown’s innovative R60 million proposal to turn invasive plant species into much-needed electricity is finding 75000 litres of a water a day to keep the 20-year project going.

A thirsty gum tree sucks up 1000 litres of water or more a day

With the City of Saints currently in the grip of a severe drought, local residents on Thursday night (July 22) expressed concern that there would not be enough water for everybody.

With the scheme aimed at saving water by chopping down and burning thirsty, illegal invasive trees, the irony of using large amounts of water to save even larger amounts of the precious liquid was not lost on the 20-strong crowd of interested and affected parties.

Responding to a question about “creating a dangerous situation” by expecting existing Grahamstown residents and businesses to “use less water” in dry times to keep the project going, Coastal and Environmental Services expert Dr Kevin Whittington-Jones admitted the issue had been discussed for “several months”.

He said the project – funded by the Nollen Group, an international environmental finance company with projects all over the world – was “well aware” that the industrial area where the wood burning facility would be situated “had been experiencing water shortages for several months”.

Nollen Group representative Charlie Cox said the project did not need “clean water from Grahamstown”, thanks to installing its own reverse osmosis system to demineralise water before use.

The water was crucial to cool the equipment that would be used to produce 3MW of power a day. Continue reading