Aquatic conservation in a key water source area

Freshwater conservation and monitoring in the upper Riviersonderend Catchment

The upper Riviersonderend catchment is critical from a water supply perspective, because the rivers draining these mountains feed Cape Town’s largest water supply Dam, Theewaterskloof. They also fuel a thriving fruit farming industry in the valley, which creates jobs for thousands of people living in nearby communities like Vyeboom. Furthermore, these rivers are a hotspot for endemic freshwater species such as the Giant Redfin – a newly-described species that occurs in only three rivers on the planet. This project aims to build up a picture of aquatic biodiversity, river habitat condition and threats in rivers flowing into the Theewaterskloof Dam.

Importantly, we are designing monitoring protocols to track changes in river health and biodiversity in response to rehabilitation efforts underway in the catchment, including large-scale clearing of alien pine trees. There is also a community outreach component to the project that involves raising freshwater awareness among multiple stakeholder groups from land-owners to farm workers. This is being approached through citizen science, art installations and local workshops in the valley.





Project Leader
Kate Snaddon