Knysna Water Shortage Raises catchment management Issues

Critically low water shortages facing the town of Knysna raises several issues, many of which holds true also for Sedgefield, George and Mossel Bay,

Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape landowners Initiative (SCLI)

“Water shortages can be ascribed to a host of factors, of which the obvious ones include low rainfall figures over prolonged periods, insufficient water storage capacity, lack of forward planning in keep with rapid urban expansion, leaking and wastage of treated water, as well as (a lack of) catchment management”.

“Mountain catchments in the Outeniqua Mountains are of primary importance, as they are the infrastructure provided by nature to ensure a steady supply of clean water, and all we have to do is to ensure that we protect these catchments from detrimental outside influences”, continues Meiring.

Our primary catchments are severely affected by invasive alien plants taking over

“In the Outenqua mountains, the most evident factor that we have a serious problem affecting our water security diversely, is the fact that our primary catchments are severely affected by invasive alien plants (primarily pines, but also, wattles and blue gums)”.

“Consider that Oudtshoorn is also running out of water, and may well have to drill into the sub- terrainian aquafer to supplement what they have”. The “dry side ” catchments of the Outeniqua mountains, as well as the Swartberg, are affected by invasives”.

Natural systems stretching from Waboomskraal, Louvain, Nols Halte and Molenrivier supplying the Klip and Kamanassie rivers are all completely overgrown with invasives , and, as a result, we loose upwards of 15% of available water.”

Says Meiring, “It must be noted that as severe as the problem may seem, with rivers and streams clogged by invasive aliens, we can still salvage our natural systems by increasing efforts to eradicate and control invasives”.

“Credit must go to entities such as SANParks, WWF SA and the Working for Water program in their efforts to clear catchments affected by invasive, but we have a long way to go, and we will do well to focus more effort into taking care of our natural infrastructure, before we reap unwanted results such as “preventable” water shortages”.

The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative is a public platform for landowners and land managers concerned with the control and eradication of invasive alien plants, and is supported by the Table Mountain Fund.

Written by Cobus Meiring