Friends of the Rivers of Hout Bay
Our local river ecology is under tremendous threat due to the drought. This situation is greatly exacerbated by the way we treat our waterways in Hout Bay.
Without a healthy river system to replenish groundwater table levels, Hout Bay and Cape Town will eventually become a wasteland.
The importance of good groundwater levels cannot be overemphasised. Groundwater levels impact dam levels, natural vegetation and the species that live in our environment.
During extreme summers when rivers and dams dry up, we can still depend on groundwater to meet our water needs that is, if we have sufficient supplies. It is critical to encourage groundwater to build up during the winter months so that there will be water available in the earth the following summer.
The greatest problems facing the waterways and groundwater in Hout Bay are: illegal pumping of water from water courses and sources, pollution, proliferation of invasive plant species, canalising waterways and hard surfacing large areas that should allow water to be absorbed into the ground.
When we canalise and create impenetrable ground surfaces, water rushes off to sea via the stormwater system, instead of replenishing our groundwater resources. Stop excessive abstraction of water from water courses – “free” water is false economy.
Before 1998 property owners next to a river were permitted to take water from that river. The current National Water Act, 1998 (Act 36 of 1998), however, abolished the riparian right rule. Today no one now has riparian rights.
If you had been taking water from a river during the two years prior to the new act being promulgated, you may continue to abstract water without written authorisation from the national Department of Water and Sanitation, but you must reduce the amount you now use by at least 20% (eg if during 1996 – 1998 you were taking 100 litres per year, you may now only take 80 litres per year).
It is very important to note that, even if you are currently permitted to abstract water from a river because you were doing so during the period 1996-1998, you are obligated to familiarise yourself with the water restrictions at any given time and adhere to those restrictions – just as any other water user lawfully must do.
With our current Level 4b water restrictions it is illegal to pump water from any water source without a water-use authorisation. And you will not be able to get one if your water use puts the resource at risk, or, puts another person’s lawful use of water at risk.
Those with authorisation have to publicly display signage to this effect.
It is also unlawful to have a borehole and a well point within the 1:100 year flood line of a river and within the 500 meter radius from the boundary of a delineated wetland, unless it is authorised by the department or if it was drilled before the National Water
Act, 1998 came into effect.
Friends of the Rivers of Hout Bay (FORHB) strongly recommends that you install a meter on any pump used to abstract water (be it on a borehole, well point, river or any other water source) and keep a monthly record of amounts pumped. This will help if there is ever a query regarding your water usage and will allow you to use water responsibly. It is not too late to prevent an environmental disaster and we can all act now to ensure there is enough water in the system for the next hot season and for future generations. This is how: ·
* If we all used the winter rains – by collecting water in rain tanks – the ground water and dams will have a chance to fill up for the next dry spell.
* Backwash pool water into a tank and add a flocculant to the tank so solids settle at the bottom. After 24 hours, run the water back into the pool and thus save chemicals and water.
* Install grey water systems to save water all year round.
* Slow down run-off from your property by digging swales or berms which allow the water time to soak into the ground. Well composted ground discourages water runoff and allows for more water retention in the soil. The best place to store water is in the soil.
* If you pave a piece of open ground think about how you could manage the terrain to feed run-off back into the earth.
Encourage those around you not to pollute. Set up systems in your home and at your workplace that allow for recycling and composting. Add compost to your own garden and pavements but not near or in rivers. Dispose of hazardous waste and building rubble responsibly.
The City of Cape Town depot will take most of your hazardous waste. You need to separate items into waste types and clearly mark any containers with the contents therein.
Use earth friendly cleaning products wherever possible. What you put down your drain ends up in rivers, the ground water and the sea.
Prevent invasive species (such as kikuyu grass, ivy and the Australian Cherry) from escaping from your garden into waterways.
Remove invasive plant species from your garden (such as Lantana, Port Jackson, Devils Beard/Red Valerian and Pampas grass). For more information, visit www.capetowninvasives.org.za
Even if you love the pines and blue gums on your property be aware of the fire hazard large invasive trees pose and how much ground water they use. Plant indigenous plants, especially if you live
near a water course.
See http://www. friends oftheriversof houtbay.co.za/ Flora.aspx for ideas.
For more information or to join the Friends of the Rivers of Hout Bay, call Jemimah at 083 716 1010 or Jackie at 072 808 1530.
Please report water abuse or illegal water activities to 0860 103 089.friendsoftheriversofhoutbay.co.za/ Flora.aspx for ideas.
For more information or to join the Friends of the Rivers of Hout Bay call Jemimah at 083 716 1010 or Jackie at 072 808 1530.
Please report water abuse or illegal water activities to 0860 103 089.