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W Cape Government signs MoU with Denmark to improve wastewater treatment

A new research paper recently published by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, which looked at the impact of the 2015 to 2017 drought on the Berg River Estuary, shows that the Berg River ecological systems are in a worse condition than previously thought.

The Research concluded that to preserve the Berg River’s ecological systems, more freshwater needs to flow through the Estuary to maintain the desired level of ecological health. This means better monitoring and regulations are needed in terms of water extraction, but we also need better quality water released from wastewater works situated along the Berg River. The research showed that during winter, sufficient water reaches the Estuary, but too little water reaches the Estuary during the summer.

The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, elaborated: “The MoU aims to foster the exchange of knowledge relating to 17 wastewater treatment works situated along the Berg River. This programme, which is funded by the Kingdom of Denmark, will focus on improving management and technical skills for these plants to operate more effectively.”

Minister Bredell added that the Danish MoU will play a crucial role in improving the quality of water released back into the Berg River by wastewater works and added that the fact that the Berg River Estuary was recently recognised as a Ramsar site of International Importance adds to the urgency to intervene and step-up efforts to return the entire Berg River to a better environmental status.

The Berg River Estuary is also of significant economic value. Not only is the estuary one of the most important systems in the country in terms of estuarine biodiversity, but also produces goods and services worth at least R378 million per year, not counting the value of carbon storage to the rest of the world. The annualised contribution of the estuary to property value accounts for R168million annually. The asset value of the Berg River Estuary is currently just over R5 billion. This is according to a previous study by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Premier Winde explained that going forward: “The outcomes of this project for the Berg River municipalities will be presented to all the stakeholders and role-players involved in river systems with pollution challenges. This will include a demonstration of how different methodologies and techniques can be used by municipalities.”

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