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A new R2.5 million artificial wetland to purify contaminated water for Cape farmers

25 June 2018
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Creating wetland areas for irrigation

The Berg River is set to provide much needed purified water for Cape farmers 

An R2.5 million artificial wetland is set to be built next to the Mbekweni informal settlement in Paarl, Western Cape, to assist farms at risk of irrigating with contaminated water. The 1.4-hectare wetland next to the Berg River will support a region where 75% of agricultural production is exported to European markets, according to a tender by the Western Cape government. Contaminated water from the Berg River threatens the future of farms, which uses the water for irrigation.

Local Government plan to purify contaminated water 

“The project aims to reduce the impact of contaminated stormwater flows on the Berg River, emanating from urban and peri-urban areas in the vicinity of Mbekweni,” the provincial government said.

This includes wastewater and refuses off-flow.

“The ideal supplier needs to provide a cost-effective, community orientated and sustainable model for interventions which prevent pollutants and contaminants from entering our freshwater resources while improving the socio-economic conditions of the local community,” reported the provincial government spokesperson.

Berg River Improvement Plan 

The project, a part of the bigger Berg River Improvement Plan , is set to be completed by 2020. Community members will be directly involved in the project and indigenous plant species planted to filter incoming water. The technical design and implementation of the project are subject to the final supplier, to be appointed by the end of the year. Ultimately the project aims to restore water quality to South Africa Water Quality Guidelines by 2042. E. coli bacteria, phosphorus, nitrogen, temperature, electrical conductivity and pH need to be reduced in the water.

“Water quality needs to be restored to a level, where its value for ecosystem services is recognised, and in doing so promote sustainable growth and development towards a green economy,” the Western Cape government said.

These kinds of developments are what South Africa and the agricultural sector require to sustain future growth. The depletion of our natural resources will continue as the population continues increasing.