A R2.5-million artificial wetland will be built next to Mbekweni, an informal settlement in Paarl, to prevent the Berg River from being contaminated by wastewater and refuse off-flow from the settlement.
The contaminated water is threatening the future of farms in the area which use water from the Berg River for irrigation. The wetland will also reduce the prevalence of E. coli bacteria and harmful nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus.
“Pollution in the Berg River catchment, however, is a cause of great concern especially to communities, farmers and industry in the various municipalities of the West Coast and Cape Winelands regions,” the Western Cape Government said. “Various stakeholders have implemented initiatives to address the pollution concerns raised.”
The 1.4 hectare wetland will support a region where 75% of its production is exported to overseas markets, specifically in Europe.
This project forms part of the bigger Berg River Improvement Plan, which is to be completed by 2020, and will see community members become directly involved in the project.
The final supplier of the project will be appointed at the end of this year and will see to the technical design and implementation of the project. It should, however, be noted that only indigenous plants will be used to filter the incoming water from the settlement.
The Western Cape Government has said that the water quality of the Berg River needs to be restored.
“The outcome will be a Berg River, where its value for ecosystem services is recognised, and its natural resource state as it relates to water quality and quantity returns while promoting sustainable growth and development towards a green economy in the Western Cape.”