55 billion litres of water in Cape Town lost annually to alien plants

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The City of Cape Town says scientific reports have shown that over 55 billion litres of water, about two months supply for the city, is being lost every year to invasive alien plants in catchments feeding dams.

To turn the water losses into gains, the city says 54 300 hectares of alien invasive plants have to be cleared.

CapeNature says nearly a third of SA’s water is lost to alien invasive plants:

In a statement, the City of Cape Town says by removing the water-thirsty plants from key parts of dam catchment areas, it can maximise its surface water supply as more rain can flow into dams.

The removal of the alien invasive plants forms part of the city’s water strategy programme which was drafted and adopted in response to the areas worst drought on record. It says R62 million will be invested to bolster efforts to clear thirsty alien invasive plants in rugged mountainous catchment areas feeding important water supply dams.

The city says it aims to build resilience against the effects of climate change.

“The City of Cape Town’s Water Strategy aims to build resilience against the effects of climate change and resulting future droughts to ensure a safe, reliable water supply for generations to come. It was drafted and adopted in response to the city’s worst drought on record and serves as the foundation for the implementation of the New Water Programme, through which the city has accelerated efforts to diversify our water sources,” says the city.

Partnership with Nature Conservancy

The city has gone into a partnership with Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global non-profit environmental organisation working in over 70 countries, which will see the organisation administer the R62 million investment, coupled with contributions raised in the private sector.

TNC will focus on clearing AIPs on the high angle slopes in the upper reaches of the Wemmershoek, Steenbras and Berg River Dam catchments.

It will further regular reports, including a publicly available online tracking tool on the progress of the work, to the City of Cape Town.

“Overall, we look forward to the results that the efforts and hard work will produce over the next three years,” the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste, Alderman Xanthea Limberg says.

– Additional reporting by Carmel Loggenberg-Roberts.