Plan to com­bat aliens threat­en­ing Plet’s wa­ter sup­ply

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JOHN HAR­VEY

THE ABUN­DANCE of alien veg­e­ta­tion in Plettenberg Bay’s catch­ment area is pre­sent­ing a grave threat to the town’s fu­ture wa­ter sup­ply.

And un­less the non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion at­tempt­ing to avert the cri­sis can raise R500 000 in the next 50 days, it will lose the R8.2 mil­lion grant the gov­ern­ment has ear­marked for the clean-up op­er­a­tion.

Re­search by the Gar­den Route-based Eden to Addo Cor­ri­dor Ini­tia­tive in­di­cates that un­less the sit­u­a­tion is rec­ti­fied, the Keur­booms stream flow will be re­duced by 95 per­cent.

The speed with which the veg­e­ta­tion is spread­ing is in­di­cated by the fact that in 2000 half the fyn­bos of the Keur­booms River catch­ment had been in­vaded, and in the next decade it will have al­most com­pletely in­fested the area.

In 2010, flow at the Keur­booms weir dropped be­low 300l/sec­ond, and Bi­tou Mu­nic­i­pal­ity was de­clared a dis­as­ter area.

Eden to Addo has con­se­quently em­barked on a clear­ing project that cov­ers a crit­i­cal catch­ment area for the Keur­booms River, upon which Plettenberg Bay, with a pop­u­la­tion of some 50 000, de­pends.

Ac­cord­ing to ini­tia­tive spokesman Pamela Booth, the gov­ern­ment has ded­i­cated the funds to the project in recog­ni­tion of its im­por­tance. How­ever, the funds ac­count for only wages and equip­ment, and re­quire that Eden to Addo cov­ers project man­age­ment costs.

“We are look­ing to im­ple­ment the project in April next year.

“We have been mak­ing a lot of con­tacts over­seas for fund­ing, but the truth is this is a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing,” Booth said this week.

She ex­plained that the project in­volved way more than “go­ing in with chain­saws and cut­ting down the plants”.

“We are ex­plor­ing nu­mer­ous bio-con­trol meth­ods, for ex­am­ple in­tro­duc­ing wee­vils that eat the seed of the alien plants.”

Eden to Addo will be train­ing and em­ploy­ing 100 peo­ple to clear alien species. – Gar­den Route Me­dia

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