Minister Bredell urges for more conservation focus on Western Cape rivers at World Rivers Day event.
“We need to do more to protect our rivers, as rivers not only support all life, but they also attract economic development, Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development planning said at the World Rivers Day Symposium, hosted by the National Department of Water and Sanitation, in Cape Town.
Bredell said the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) deserves special recognition for the work it is doing to protect and rehabilitate rivers in the Western Cape.
DEA&DP was recently awarded a silver medal at the annual Enviropaedia Eco-Logic Awards in the Water Conservation category. “This award recognised the long-term water quality management as well as riverbank rehabilitation work the Department is doing as part of the Berg River Improvement Plan (BRIP).
The Department is also assisting local authorities in developing 29 Estuary Management Plans for river mouths on the Western Cape coastline. Estuaries are critical ecological infrastructure that provides significant services to people and the economy. But any problem in the catchment or along the course of a river eventually ends up in the estuary. These Management Plans are the mechanisms that enable the coordination and alignment of management objectives and activities across all sectors, Bredell said.
“We are also very proud that the Berg River Estuary is since 2022 recognised by Ramsar as an International wetland of importance. Our research calculated that the Berg River Estuary offers ecological services worth more than R5bn, and the international recognition from Ramsar will add to this,” Bredell said.
Bredell warned that due to climate change and population growth pressure, our rivers are bearing the brunt in terms of disrupted flow patterns, environmental degradation, and pollution. “We need clean and healthy rivers to survive. invasive aliens remove an estimated 55 billion litres of water from strategic water source catchments in South Africa per year. Our BRIP programme has already cleared 13.6km of river course from alien plants and rehabilitated the riverbanks with indigenous plants and trees at a cost of R13.6million. However, the Berg River is 294km long, so there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Bredell said the Western Cape Department of Local Government recently signed an agreement with the Danish Government that will see cooperation and knowledge exchange between Western Cape and Danish experts to improve management systems at 17 wastewater plants that release treated water into the Berg River.
World Rivers Day is recognised annually on the fourth Sunday of September. The purpose is to increase public awareness and stewardship activities for rivers across the world.