#WaterWatch

Invasive alien vegetation a major threat to Cape dam levels - scientist

Alien vegetation poses a significant threat to Cape Town's water supply, says biodiversity scientist Jasper Slingsby.

Slingsby co-authored an opinion piece that appeared on the Daily Maverick.

He says that removing alien trees near water catchment areas should form part of the City of Cape Town's water augmentation schemes.

Read: Zandvlei water area closed over high E.coli count

Slingsby claims that invasive alien trees currently reduce water supply to dams by more than 100 megalitres per day.

He says alien vegetation also impacts on groundwater replenishment.

According to Slingsby, an aggressive alien removal plan is needed around key catchment areas which are the most invaded and which have higher rainfall.

These include high-altitude catchments around Berg River dam and some feeding the Theewaterskloof dam, he argues.

Also read: Cape rains have made a slight dent on the drought says national water dept

Slingsby laments that the City has made no significant provision for alien clearing in its draft budget or development plan.

Alien trees use a lot more water than the indigenous vegetation.

Jasper Slingsby, Scientist with the Fynbos Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network

It means water lost from the catchment.

Jasper Slingsby, Scientist with the Fynbos Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network

The result is that, for a given amount of rain, you have less water making to the dams and into your groundwater.

Jasper Slingsby, Scientist with the Fynbos Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network

Current estimates are that it's more than a 100 megalitres [lost] per day just for dams around Cape Town.

Jasper Slingsby, Scientist with the Fynbos Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network

That's roughly 10% of the water that should be making it into the dam. It's projected to be much worse by 2045.

Jasper Slingsby, Scientist with the Fynbos Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network

This should be step one in water security. We are dependent on water from the dams.

Jasper Slingsby, Scientist with the Fynbos Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network

They are not investing in improving the water flow.

Jasper Slingsby, Scientist with the Fynbos Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network

Take a listen to his expert advice:


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