23 March 2005

Bleak outlook for rivers on World Water Day

The Western Cape administration is proposing to create a 30m buffer zone along all provincial rivers where no urban or agricultural development can take place.

Tasneem Essop, MEC for environmental affairs and development planning, said at the World Water Day celebrations in Khayelitsha on Tuesday that the province's state of the environment report revealed that 95 percent of Western Cape rivers were not in a healthy state.

Essop said the Western Cape was the first province to have produced a sustainable development plan, emerging from the findings of the WSSD, which would be launched in June.

The buffer zone was one of the "critical proposals" in the plan.

Essop said that, together with the Cape Town municipality and the department of water affairs, the province would embark on a clean-up programme of rivers and canals from April 11, starting with the Khayelitsha wetlands.

Saleem Mowzer, mayoral committee member in charge of trading services, announced at the Water Week celebrations that the city had entered into a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme to implement a system of integrated resources management for urban areas.

The United Nations would provide substantial funding, Mowzer said.

"This will include the implementation of a number of innovative pilot projects linking more sustainable resource use with improvements in housing, employment and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

The project will help the city co-ordinate its energy, waste and water programmes.

Mowzer said it was not clear whether the current drought, the worst in recorded history, was cyclical or whether it was part of world climate change caused by global warming.

Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool urged residents to save water.

"A dripping tap can waste 200 litres in 24 hours. A leaking toilet can waste 100 000 litres in a year," Rasool said.


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