Category: Environmental Management

Garden Route District Municipality’s Nina Viljoen now “Dr Nina Viljoen”

Nina Viljoen, Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Change Adaptation Practitioner at the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), was on 12 July 2019, conferred a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) qualification at the University of Cape Town’s Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences.

Talking passionately to the Communication and Graphic Design Unit of GRDM regarding the progress of her education over the years, she said: “I progressed from having a Grade 7 (previous standard 5) school qualification at the age of 19, to achieving my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), with specialisation in Water Resources Management”.

Her thesis is titled: “Participative water demand management as an adaptive response within complex socio-institutional systems: A City of Cape Town case study, South Africa’.  However, she admitted that it could not have been done without will power, commitment and true dedication.

Referring back to her Master of Science (MSc) Degree, she explained: “I also focused on water resources management, more specifically alternative water resources, with my dissertation entitled: “The feasibility of rainwater and stormwater harvesting within a winter rainfall climate context: A Commercial Building Focus,” for which I received a Cum Laude recognition”.

Touching on how she persevered with so much at hand, she said:  “At times I had to isolate myself from family issues and had to work over weekends and on public holidays on my thesis. I also participated in Garden Route Environmental Management related initiatives, and attended forums and workshops that took my mind off the strict routine of the PhD studies”, she added. At times when she felt despondent and felt like giving up, these initiatives helped her to get re-energised and motivated again.

Sharing briefly about her childhood years, she said she grew up in a single-parent household.  “I attended 14 primary schools as my family was mostly homeless and moved around a lot. Sadly, due to the psychological and physical impacts of these hardships we faced, I lost my only sibling to suicide”.

Dr Viljoen is adamant that education saved her life and has given her independence. She would like to be a role model to the youth as an example of the importance of education in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and hardship. With regard to her immediate future plans, she concluded:  “With my expertise and experience gained through my PhD studies, I will continue to help the Garden Route district with water resource planning and drought awareness initiatives”.

The Garden Route Annual Fire Commemoration Event, Climate Change & Adaptation Indaba successfully hosted in Wilderness

The Garden Route Annual Fire Commemoration Event, Climate Change & Adaptation Indaba hosted by Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) in collaboration with the South Cape Environmental Forum once again reminded roleplayers about the fire outbreaks of 2017 and 2018 in the Garden Route and the aftermaths and tragic losses as a result of the fires. The Indaba took place on 7 June 2019 at the Wilderness Hotel in Wilderness of which approximately 150 delegates attended.

Garden Route District Municipality was well represented at the event. FLTR are: Dr Nina Viljoen, Cllrs Rowen Spies, Erica Meyer, Thersia van Rensburg, Joslyn Johnson, Mayor Memory Booysen, Daniel Saayman, Mr Gerhard Otto and Deputy Mayor Rosina Ruiters.

Delegates represented organisations and institutions, such as the National Department of Environmental Affairs, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Stellenbosch University and Nelson Mandela University, as well as GRDM and Knysna Municipality were in attendance.

Various role-players from Government Organisations, Training Institutions, Municipalities and members of the media attended the event. Front (fltr) GRDM Manager:  Disaster Management, Mr Gerhard Otto, Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen and Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu.

The main purpose of the event, was not to only host the Annual Fire Commemoration event, but also to build on the momentum and team effort the region has created in their efforts to recover from the fire, but also to host a Climate Change Indaba, according to Municipal Manager of GRDM, Mr Monde Stratu. In his welcoming address to the attendants, Mr Stratu said: “It is our objective to shape a better prepared, climate- ready and resilient Garden Route environment for our community, and we trust that you will be able to assist us in achieving that ambitious goal”.

Dr Nina Viljoen, Manager: Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation at GRDM during, her presentation at the event.
Dr Jo Barnes, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Community Health at the Stellenbosch University, spoke about the harsh realities of the impact of climate change on public health systems in the Garden Route.

In referring back to losses and the recovery of losses and damages as a result of the fires, Mr Cobus Meiring, Secretariat of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) said:  “Recent reports released by Santam and others indicate that the damages incurred by the 2017 Knysna wildfire disaster are very close to three billion rand. For the large insurance companies to arrive at accurate calculations took them a full two years to consolidate all pay-outs and peripheral and associated costs. Three billion rand is a staggering amount of money and is indicative of the kind of damage the fury of nature can incur on civilisation and the environment in a matter of hours. However, when taking into account what best could be described as collateral damage, could be a lot harder to calculate. Take for instance the number of retired folk from Knysna and Plettenberg Bay deciding not to rebuild at all, land becoming vacant for extended periods, formerly employed people now struggling to find new employment opportunities, with employers having decided to move on following the disaster, or even leaving the country as some reportedly did, and suddenly the situation looks even worse than expected,” Meiring said.  It is for these reasons that Dr Nina Viljoen, Manager: Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation at GRDM described the event as crucial in the way the region is planning ahead with a challenging environment at play.

The event was facilitated by Mr Cobus Meiring, Secretariat of the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

Most of the presentations made at the event, placed emphasis on water security, high quality water resources, the living conditions of the communities, sanitation facilities, regrowth of alien vegetation, to name a few. All these factors place a high risk on the state of health of the residents of the area and the economic growth of the Garden Route.   These were furthermore and significantly emphasised by Dr Jo Barnes, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Community Health at the Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, when she spoke about the harsh realities of the impact of climate change on public health systems.

GRDM Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, could not ignore the after effects of the fires in his address, when he made an announcement:  “As we pride ourselves as a District Municipality striving to improve the way we manage our environment, the GRDM and our Environmental Forum has secured substantial funding and support from the Fund for the Rebuild of Knysna to assist landowners who were severely affected by the Knysna, and more recent fires, to deal with the scourge of invasive alien plant re-growth”.  In coming to a point where resolutions had to be taken and the way forward was discussed, Mr Gerhard Otto, GRDM Manager for Disaster Management said, “The establishment of the Garden Route Environmental Forum, mandated by the District Municipality and incorporating non-governmental conservation bodies and public platforms, was a first in the Western Cape, and allows for greater cooperation between private landowners and regional and national authorities.”

In conclusion, Otto added that floods and fire in the immediate and foreseeable future can be reduced, but only if those tasked with planning and management understand the issues at play and implement mitigation measures in accordance,” Otto added. “The announcement of a regional public/ private programme to assist landowners who were affected by recent fires and a scourge of invasive alien plant re-growth is a first of its kind in RSA, and further announcements will follow as the initiative reaches implementation stage,” he added.

CHEMICAL SAFETY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The safe transport, handling, use and disposal of hazardous chemicals and receptacles, are of crucial importance to the general health and well-being of members of the public, and the environment as a whole.

Different legislation covers the subject of hazardous substances in South Africa and the aim of this  article is  to focus broadly on the HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACT of 1973 (ACT 15 OF 1973).

The HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACT, 1973 (ACT 15 OF 1973) deals specifically with the following issues namely:

  1. Licensing;
  2. Conditions of sale;
  3. Keeping of records;
  4. Labelling; and
  5. Disposal of empty containers.

1. Licensing

All manufacturers, importers, wholesale distributors, registered pharmacists and general dealers of Group 1 hazardous substances, must be in possession of a valid license which is renewable annually. Group 1 hazardous substance, which are listed in the act, are extremely toxic and / or corrosive substances with mostly rapid chemical reactions and shall be locked separately from articles of food and drink in an enclosed space reserved solely for the hazardous substance.

The departments of Agriculture as well as National and Provincial Health, are responsible for the issuing of licenses.  The Municipal Environmental Practitioners are responsible to ensure that all cases of poisoning are investigated, as soon as they are notified of any incident.

2. Conditions of sale

All sales must take place at the address mentioned in the license and under control of the person mentioned therein.

All containers must be securely closed, free from leaks and of sufficient strength to withstand rough handling and preclude any loss of content.

  1. Keeping of records

Stock records should reflect the name and quantity of the substance, date of importation or acquisition, name of the supplier and whether the substance will be used for mining, or industrial purposes or to a wholesale distributor, a bona fide laboratory, research institution, teaching institution, government department, agricultural company or any other user. Records and invoices of sales must be kept for a period of 3 years.

  1. Labelling

Information that should reflect on a label must show the chemical name of the product or substances contained therein, the name and address of the supplier, a skull and crossbones symbol with the words “poison” and “keep out of reach of children”. The label and lettering is prescribed in the legislation, as well as directives regarding the disposal of empty containers. Risks involved using the substance, precautions and first aid treatment must be conspicuously labeled.

  1. Disposal of empty containers

Certain categories of hazardous substances empty containers must be returned to the manufacturer under very specific conditions. Other low risk containers can be perforated, flattened and buried at a hazardous land fill site. Empty containers that contained foodstuffs, cosmetics or disinfectants can never be used as containers for hazardous substances. Municipal Environmental Practitioners play a critical role in ensuring that all hazardous and medical waste are stored and disposed of in a safe and effective manner according to international norms and standards.

Hazardous substances can and should be handled as prescribed by legislation. This will ensure that our environment and loved ones are not negatively affected by the use of such substances. It is thus imperative, that we also make use of the above mentioned principles in our homes and workplace.

For more information, please contact the GRDM Municipal Health Section at 044 803 1550.

Annual Fire Commemoration event to look at climate change 

The Annual Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) event, to be hosted on 7 June to mark the devastating wildfire that ravaged the town and surrounds of Knysna in 2017, will broaden its scope in order to also look at the effects of climate change in the region,” says Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Municipal Manager, Mr Monde Stratu.

Continues Stratu, “Not only the Knysna wildfire disaster, but also regional wildfire disasters before and after the dramatic 7 June 2017 event, hint at a vulnerable environment grappling to deal with a change in climate, and  a region exposed to risks associated with drought, wildfire and a constant loss of biodiversity and natural habitat”.

“What we want to achieve is to support and promote efforts for a better prepared, more resilient and climate-ready Southern Cape and Garden Route,” concludes Stratu.

Burnt landscape 2 Natural Disasters indicate that the effects of climate change are real and likely to increase.

Says Cobus Meiring on behalf of the GREF Secretariat, “Natural disasters on an unprecedented scale, such as the Outeniqua fires and the more recent tropical cyclone Idai, raising havoc in the city of Beira in bordering Mozambique, must serve as a clarion call for communities and authorities alike, that climate change is real and no-one is immune to its effects”.

According to Meiring vulnerable communities, such as those living in the Great and Klein Karoo continue to suffer the long-term knock-on effect of extended periods of drought, with farmers abandoning their operations, leaving reliant communities destitute.

More detail on the commemoration event will be made available in due course on the GREF website: www.scli.org.za/gref.

Photo caption: Natural disasters such as the 2017 Knysna fires, perpetual drought in the Klein and Great Karoo, and the more recent cyclone Idai in bordering Mozambique are indicators that the effects of climate change are real and likely to increase, and the Garden Route must plan for survival.

* The intense tropical cyclone Idai was one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. The long-lived storm caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1000 people dead and thousands more missing. Idai is the second-deadliest tropical cyclone recorded in the South-West Indian Ocean basin, behind only the 1892 Mauritius cyclone. In the Southern Hemisphere, it currently ranks as the third-deadliest tropical cyclone on record, behind the aforementioned 1892 Mauritius cyclone and the 1973 Flores cyclone. (Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclone_Idai)

** The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a regional forum for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. The forum aims to coordinate regional conservation efforts, serve as a catalyst to drive climate adaption practices in the Southern Cape and strive to establish a better-coordinated approach to environmental management.

WEBSITE: http://www.scli.org.za/gref

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MEDIA ENQUIRIES

Cobus Meiring: Cobus Meiring: Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) Secretariat

Cell: 083 626 7619

Email: cobus@naturalbridge.co.za

Forum to commemorate the Knysna fires of 7 June 2017

“The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), incorporating the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF), is looking at the establishment of an annual commemoration event for the 2017 Knysna fires. The forum is currently planning to host a seminar on Friday June 7 to review the environmental preparedness of the Southern Cape regarding risks associated with fire and drought,” says Nina Viljoen, Manager: Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation at the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and a spokesperson for the Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF).

The countryside near Vermaaklikheid resembled a lunar landscape following the devastating wildfire in 2018. The recovery of vegetation in the Southern Cape – following the devastation of some 100 000 hectares in 2018 – is a matter of concern where black wattle and other invasive alien plants are making an unwelcome appearance on the landscape.

“Much has happened in terms of regional disaster prevention and management since the widespread destruction caused by the 2017 Knysna and Plettenberg Bay fires, not to mention the 2018 devastation of some 100 000 hectares along the Outeniqua Mountains, Still Bay and Vermaaklikheid, claiming still more lives and causing untold damage to the regional economy,” says Viljoen.

At a recent workshop hosted at the Nelson Mandela University’s (NMU) Saasveld Campus, options were discussed to generate funds sufficient to address and reduce risks associated with invasive alien biomass in the Southern Cape landscape. In dealing with the aftermath of the respective fire disasters, the Executive Mayor of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Councillor Memory Booysen, was quoted as suggesting a tax on landowners to generate funds for invasive alien plant biomass reduction on the landscape. This was merely a discussion point and what was meant by his point-of-view was that we should be open for a debate on how we, as a collective, can become more prepared for future disasters.

Booysen pointed out that there was general agreement that much more must be done by both landowners and authorities to reduce risks if we were to safeguard the region from a recurrence of the 2017 and 2018 fires.

Fire-risk reduction is but one of several environmental matters hitting the GREF spotlight

The proposed 7 June Fire Commemoration seminar will look at the overarching research and strategy development that has taken place over the past two years regarding environmental risk reduction in the region, and the physical measures that have been implemented. The seminar will also provide a roadmap of what is planned for the region in the coming months.

Further announcements on the seminar will be made in due course and information will be published on the GREF website: https://www.scli.org.za/GREF/ closer to the event.

** The Garden Route Environmental Forum (GREF) is a regional forum for collaboration in conservation, environmental adaptation and community interaction. The forum aims to coordinate regional conservation efforts, serve as a catalyst to drive climate adaption practices in the Southern Cape and strive to establish a better-coordinated approach to environmental management.

Water sample results in the Knysna estuary show improvement

Results of water samples taken on the 18th March 2019 indicate the Knysna estuary is safe for recreational use in all sites except the Ashmead Channel, Queen Street, the Train station, and Bongani.  The Ashmead channel is not safe for use for swimming, bait collection, fishing or wading at present. This extends from the areas adjacent to Loerie Park, Cathy Park and up to the area next to Monk’s Caravan Park. The Thesen island waterway on the Ashmead side is also not safe for use at present. Users of the estuary are encouraged to use compliant sites with the Department of Water Affairs guidelines including the Heads, Bollard Bay, the Point, Salt River, Crabs Creek, the Waterfront, the main channel and Belvidere. SANParks’ deepwater samples indicate areas are compliant and confirm that the deeper waters and main channel are safe for use.

Mc Carthy (Health Officer for the Garden Route District Municipality) explains ‘sampling will be done weekly by the District Municipality and in line with tidal flow. We are expecting a flush in 2-3 days and will definitely continue to sample thereafter.’

SANParks has erected signage at four (4) spots around the Knysna estuary warning recreational users not to fish, collect bait or swim there. Notices have been issued to tourism establishments around the area of concern so that they can warn guests not to use the unsafe area of the estuary. SANParks has also sent out regular ranger patrols to the affected area to warn people about the dangers of using the water.

Investigation into the causes of oil and grease that have entered the Waste water Treatment Works (WWTW), causing bacteria to die off and the WWTW to release high loads of E.coli into the estuary has led the Knysna Municipality and Garden Route District’s Health division to sample and check all pump stations. James McCarthy of the District’s Health division says ‘we physically checked all the pump stations to find the cause. We have also sent notices to establishments closest to the stations found to have high levels of oil and grease to request proof of proper disposal of oil stores.’

Apart from this joint investigation, Knysna Municipality has tackled the problem at the WWTW by introducing an oil-eating enzyme into the system while regularly dosing the WWTW with beneficial bacteria from the Brenton-on-Sea waste water works.

A pre-directive was issued by the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA) to the Knysna Municipality subsequent to the spill from the WWTW. The Municipality will be given an opportunity to provide further action plans to rectify the situation.  According to the Knysna Municipality, the good news is that oil and grease counts in the WWTW are a lot lower since the investigation into the matter two weeks ago.’

The BGCMA has also undertaken to do more regular chemical samples including pH levels, ammonia, nitrates, phosphates levels in the water and others. SANParks has also committed to continue with deepwater samples although they’ve come out positive. Park Manager for Knysna, Megan says ‘in addition, we’ve committed to reviving and chairing the Knysna Estuary Pollution Committee to meet on a weekly basis to tackle this and any future incidents so that we protect the Knysna estuary’s unique biodiversity and tourism value.’

 

Boilerplate: SANParks has also taken deepwater samples and results look positive which means animal and plant life in those areas were not affected by the spikes, such would include the Knysna seahorse, the Knysna Gobi and others. Independent researchers declared the Knysna estuary as number 1 in the country in terms of biodiversity significance back in 2005.

Issued by: SANParks

Upwelling events and fish wash outs explained

The beach is constantly changing, every day will be different.  Sometimes the beach seems empty with very little lying along the high water mark but generally there will be bits of driftwood, soft sponges or hard coral, redbait polyps, shark egg cases and of course bits and pieces of shell. But every now and again something unusual happens, either a rare find or sometimes lots and lots of things wash out at the same time.

Mass washout events of invertebrates and fish species occur intermittently both across our beaches and over time. Until fairly recently these events may have gone relatively unnoticed. However, today an unusual event is quickly advertised through facebook and other online media.

The most recent event in the Garden Route included the washout of relatively high numbers of fish.

Two days prior to wash out we experienced strong and sustained easterly winds.  Driving along the coastline this wind starts to cause the inshore surface waters to move away from the coastline which in turn starts to pull up colder deeper water to the surface.  The easterly winds essentially drive a very large and effective water pump. If the water temperature drops quickly, fish are unable to adapt and are stunned by the cold water. Stunned and unable to swim they then wash ashore.

Although a natural event which provides plenty of easy food for many seabirds and beach scavengers, satellite derived wind data shows that since the early 1990’s the intensity and variability of upwelling along the south coast has increased with potential implications for marine life.

Changes in wind patterns and water temperature have the potential to impact the productivity and species composition of plankton which in turn can influence the abundance of small pelagic fish (e.g. sardines, anchovies) with consequences for larger predators (both fish and bird). In addition an increase in upwelling will increase the offshore movement of surface waters and along with it fish larvae drifting southwards from the more easterly spawning grounds may well be lost.  Ultimately the consequences of increased upwelling are likely to be complex and variable.

During the February upwelling a number of species washed up along the coastline but our surveys of the event indicated that the majority of the fish impacted were juvenile red tjor tjor, santer and maasbanker. Of these santer are an important species within the ski-boat linefishery and we will have to wait and see if this upwelling event will have impacted catch rates in 3 to 4 years when these fish would have been large enough to catch.

Article written by SANParks marine ecologist, Kyle Smith

Eden DM Mayor Signs Durban Commitment

On 27 March 2018, Eden District Municipality (Eden DM) pledged its commitment to the environment when the Executive Mayor, Cllr Memory Booysen, signed the Durban Commitment, joining leading local governments from around the world as a partner in the global movement to protect biodiversity.

Cllr Memory Booysen busy signing the Durban Commitment.

The document was signed during a Political Leadership Wetlands Awareness Workshop, which was sponsored by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), as part of their Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB) Wetlands South Africa project. The Durban Commitment is a non-binding commitment and model created by local governments, for local governments and the communities they serve, in order to protect and enhance biodiversity at the local level. The workshop was attended by officials and political leaders from the district and focused on raising awareness on the value wetlands play in sustaining healthy communities and ecosystems.

Cllr Khayalethu Lose, Portfolio Chairperson of Community Services, officially opened and welcomed attendees; he acknowledged the sponsor ICLEI, and thanked them for enhancing awareness of wetlands and biodiversity. Ms Kate Snaddon of the Western Cape Wetlands Forum presented ‘what wetlands are and why they are valuable’.

During the training, it became known that Wetlands are able to purify water by filtering pollutants out of water systems. They are also essential in protecting communities from the impacts of natural disasters such as droughts, as they are in regulating flooding impacts by reducing water flow, acting as sponges that store water and release it slowly. The severity of the impact of droughts and floods are therefore greatly reduced through the natural functioning of wetlands.

Wetlands are considered to be high-value ‘ecological infrastructure’, in that they provide critical ecosystem services within the areas where they occur. Poorer communities are most vulnerable to the impacts of wetland degradation. Many of the plants growing within and around wetlands have natural medicinal properties. Local communities harvest these plants to maintain or improve their personal health. Local communities living within the Eden District commonly harvest reeds from wetlands to make baskets and furniture, grasses for thatching and Arum lilies to sell on the side of the road.

Back fltr: Mr Wouter Jacobs- Eden DM Disaster Management Coordinator, Mr Rian Basson – Disaster Management Intern Researcher, Ms Lee-Ann Joubert – Disaster Management Intern Researcher, Ms Nina Viljoen – Specialist: Environmental Management, Cllr Noluthando Mwati – Deputy Mayor: Oudtshoorn Municipality, Cllr A Dellemijn – Mossel Bay Portfolio Councillor, Mr Siphiwe Dladla – Manager: Office of the Executive Mayor and Mr D Kotze – Deputy Mayor: Mossel Bay Municipality.
Front fltr: Ms Kirsty Robinson – ICLEI Representative, Ms Crystal Brown – Disaster Management Intern Researcher, Ms Gail Bekeer – Administrative Assistant: Disaster Management, Ms Tippie Bouer – Disaster Management Emergency Centre Supervisor, Cllr Memory Booysen – Eden DM Executive Mayor, Cllr Charlotte Clarke – Deputy Mayor: George Municipality, Cllr Khayalethu Lose – Eden DM Portfolio Chairperson: Community Services, Ms Kate Snaddon – Western Cape Wetlands Forum and Ms Machi Majoe – Representative of ICLEI.

In conclusion, the Executive Mayor of Eden DM, Cllr Memory Booysen, thanked the service providers for the insightful training session and said: “Today, I have developed a different view pertaining to wetlands as a whole. I will definitely be an influence to other people. This was indeed an ‘eye-opener’ – I chose to never attend these kind of engagements in the past, but as from today, I am a clever mayor who will look at you from a different perspective as protectors of the environment,” Mayor Booysen said.
By signing the Durban Commitment, the Eden District Municipality pledged its dedication to wetland protection within the Eden district, as well as its commitment towards the implementation of remedial action towards the recovery of degraded and damaged wetlands.

Plea to businesses and industry within the Eden district to adapt operations and behaviour

On Thursday, 09 November 2017, a Water Dialogue was held between the Kannaland Municipality, the Western Cape Government: Department of Economic Development and Tourism and local businesses and business associations within Kannaland in order to enable and facilitate a collective response to the serious drought and water security risks within the Western Cape.

This dynamic and vital dialogue session included information sharing and discussions on the current status of water shortages within the province, the economic risks of the water shortages, response actions by government and business taken to reduce these risks, the development of water services and technologies, business support available and how partnerships can be formed to respond collectively to the water crisis.

Business and industry are recognised as the drivers of the economy and development within the Eden district. Eden District Municipality and the Western Cape Government would therefore like to call on all businesses and industry to meter their water use, so as to identify and fix leaks and identify and reduce wasteful water usage; adjust processes and behaviour to only use water when required and in the most efficient way; apply water conservation measures such as installing  water sensitive fixtures; install alternative, more water sensitive operations and methods; replace water intensive equipment with more efficient technologies, install alternative water resource technologies such as rainwater harvesting, greywater re-use, blackwater recycling, groundwater usage; recycle water used within operations; and make employees and customers aware of the seriousness of the current situation so that they do everything possible to reduce their water use at work as well as at home. Businesses are also encouraged to understand the level of risk that their Western Cape based supply chains face due to the drought and, where possible, support their supply chains to reduce their water use and plan for their own supplies.

Mr Lourencio Pick addressing Kannaland businesses regarding the serious drought situation and its implications.

Please visit the website of the City of Cape Town, which provides valuable information and resources that can be printed and displayed within your place of operations, http://www.capetown.gov.za. The non-profit organisation, GreenCape, can also be approached for assistance with water saving measures at no cost to businesses. Email: water@green-cape.co.za or visit: http://www.greencape.co.za/content/focusarea/business-support.

The Western Cape Government: Economic Development and Tourism can also be contacted for further information and advice.  The contact persons are Mr Lourencio Pick, email:Lourencio.Pick2@westerncape.gov.za or Ms Helen Davies, email: Helen.Davies@westerncape.gov.za

The current drought can only be broken with three to four years of good rains and its impact will affect us all, for years to come. Businesses need to diversify technologies, methodologies and behaviour in order to adapt to a new “normal”.  We need to take hands in preparing for the coming water security impacts within our district.  All economic sectors need to take the responsibility of ensuring risk mitigation and water sustainability within their businesses.

Eden DM receives recognition for its contribution to the Wetlands South Africa project

At the National Wetlands Indaba 2017, the Eden District Municipality (Eden DM) was awarded a Certificate of Participation for its outstanding contributions towards the successful implementation of the ICLEI Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB): Wetlands South Africa project. The Eden DM was one of a few other district municipalities which contributed towards the LAB: Wetlands South Africa project which won the prestigious Wetlands Crane award during the National Wetlands Awards ceremony held at this year’s Wetlands Indaba in Port Edward, Kwazulu-Natal.

The prestigious Crane awards are annually sponsored by Mondi and consist of unique bronze Wattled Crane sculptures designed by sculptor Sarah Richards. It is awarded annually to recognise outstanding contributions to wetland work in South Africa. ICLEI’s LAB: Wetlands South Africa project contributed significantly to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and also served as an inspirational and practical example for others. The project has been enhancing the awareness of wetlands as well as the integration of biodiversity considerations into local government planning and decision-making. It has built the capacity of district municipalities to prioritise and effectively manage wetlands and biodiversity.

The Eden DM has fully supported and benefitted from this project. Its participation within the project highlighted the challenges experienced with wetland management within the district which resulted in the development of two essential documents, the Eden District Wetlands Report as well as the Eden District Wetlands Strategy and Implementation Plan. These documents were co-developed by both ICLEI as well as the Eden District Municipality as part of the LAB project. The Wetlands Strategy and Implementation Plan provide for key implementation strategies within the district as well as its incorporation within the Eden DM Spatial Development Framework and Integrated Development Plans. This will facilitate dynamic and focused wetland management and protection initiatives within the district.

Eden DM recognizes that wetlands are of immense value as it contributes to service provision and disaster risk reduction through ecosystem services such as flood attenuation, water filtration and water security, which are increasingly important in a changing climate. The municipality seeks to enhance the conservation and management of the districts’ natural wetland resources through the integration of biodiversity considerations into local government planning and decision- making.