Litter, reeds taking over the water furrows of Aberdeen
The irrigation furrows in Aberdeen, which transport water to about 100 properties in the town, are not delivering the water that is expected, and according to many frustrated residents, this is largely due to lack of maintenance by the municipality.
“We understand that there is a drought and that the water flow will be weaker, but there is definitely water entering the system from the eye in Fonteinbos,” said one. A small group of residents went to Fonteinbos last week, to see the problems at the source, and indeed there are many. In places, the track of the stream is almost 40m below the pathways, in a deep ravine, and there is a great deal of vegetation that will need to be cleared, by experts. There is definitely still a flow of water coming from the source, but most of that water is not reaching the users.
On the outskirts of town, the incoming water supply meets a weir, and the furrow system is fed from just above the weir. At present, the water level is about 20cm below the weir wall.
There are problems here, with cracks in the weir, with the water flowing through gaps and trickling down to the Kraai river. At least two residents have made attempts to effect a temporary repair here by filling the gaps, but when checked the following day, it seems that local children, who like to play in the swimming holes formed, have removed the plugging material to get more water into their pools.
There are many places in the system flowing through the town where blockages regularly occur, sometimes due to vegetation that is not cleared away, and other manmade problems with litter such as empty plastic bottles and packets. Used nappies have also been dumped at some places.
Some property owners have fenced in their grounds in such a way that the furrow actually is inside their boundary. This is charged as an encroachment by the municipality, and as long as those concerned keep the furrow clean and allow the water to flow, it does not present a problem. However not all of those concerned are doing this, and several frustrated irrigation water users have reported that on many occasions, they have had to ask owners to clear blockages.
Not all of those properties entitled to have access to the water actually make use of it: a few have boreholes, some of the properties are empty, and other people are not interested as they are not gardeners. Those residents who rely on the water for their gardens often have to clear the furrows ahead of them on the system, including those passing other people’s properties, and where the channel goes under a road. Some irate users go as far as to claim that others are actively sabotaging the system, by deliberately filling the furrow with mud and other debris.
Trucks from a construction company have added to the problem, by taking water from above the weir for their building activities. According to a member of the ward committee, they have been given a final warning about this by the local administration.
Many people who have moved to the town in the last few years bought their specific property due to its access to the irrigation water. Some have invested a great deal of time, effort and money in establishing large vegetable gardens, only to find that in the last few weeks there has been no water available at all during their turn. A local guest house owner is struggling to keep trees and plants in her lush garden alive - and these are one of the attractions which bring guests to the accommodation.
A group of concerned residents has arranged a meeting to try to come up with a solution to the maintenance of the furrows in town and on the outskirts. Instead of several people each trying to fix a small part of the problem, they believe that if enough people are willing to help, a concerted effort would yield much better results.
All agree that in theory, the municipality should be using the money that is paid every month for access to the irrigation water to maintain the furrows. However, as this is clearly not happening, they would like to work together so that this valuable resource can be used as it was intended.
The meeting will be held at the home of Tony and Judith Dardis, at 7 Ziervogel Street, on Monday 3 December at 15:00. All who make use of the irrigation water are urged to attend, as well as anyone else interested in maintaining this valuable structure.
Discarded bottles blocking the flow.