CSIR perspective on water in South Africa

Francis Styn: Berg River Project, Powering the Green Economy

Francis Steyn presented a report by Dr Sibusiso Sibisi from Council for Scientific and Industrial Research which highlights the pressing need for all of us to adapt new, prudent and respectful ways of valuing, using and managing our fragile and vulnerable water resources for the greatest long term good of our society and the Southern African region as a whole.

This project is work in progress and it has already demonstrated greatest value in promoting the Green Economy by adding value to alien biomass which could result in the beginning of the end of one of our greatest threats to biodiversity in South Africa, namely alien plant infestation.

The main aim of this project is to restore the most important river system in the Cape Town Metro pole area to a healthy river system that will promote human well being.

There is a private business finalising contract to sell the biomass to internal and international markets with an initial volume of 20 000 tons in the first year and moving up to 200 000 tons at full speed.

To remove the alien vegetation and replace this with indigenous vegetation would cost the government approximately R300 million and the sustainability of the present initiatives could be doubtful.

This project aimed at doing this by creating value for the biomass and thereby adding value to the problem. A healthy river system would enhance the economy of the Western Cape by creating more permanent jobs, especially in Agriculture, but more importantly in new industries such as Agri Tourism created due to the vast improvement in the quantity and quality of water within the Berg River system.

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