12 Dec #e4k_water #OlifantsRiverWC Research and Environmental Education Project Announced
Water Research and Environmental Education Project
Rivers have always been a fascination for me, looking at topographical maps and tracing the thing blue lines across the contour lines of our beautiful country. Finding places where streams converge or as contour lines touch and where water falls fall, have shaped my love for water. Though from maps to traveling around the western cape and southern Africa water has played a crucial role in all the work we do, not only in conservation but also in agriculture, mining, industry and development.
Water I would dear to say is the cornerstone to our modern society and element that should be seen to be more precious than all our gold and riches combine… Though instead many see it as a resource that can be used and exploited not understanding that with every action occurring along a rivers course from its source to its mountainous interiors of our country down to its coastal plains the quality and quantity of this irreplaceable source of life we call water is affected.
After spending many years in and out of the Cederberg, alongside the Olifants River, criss crossing the Clanwillim Dam and navigating the rugged beauty of the mostly untouched West Coast of South Africa. Two things seemed to be constant to me, the course of the Olifants River with its seasonal variations in flow and the ever increasing presence of urbanisation along the river course.
Looking through my maps at home I realised that I owned 1:50000 topographical maps for most of the Rivers Course with the exception of the much disrupted source of the Olifants River and its middle reach from Clanwilliam to the town of Lutzville. So after acquiring new maps updating my Garmin GPS’s and armed with the limited literature available on the Olifants River within the Western Cape we headed for the source better known as Visgate.
Visgat is found in an area of Mountains above Ceres in the Westen Cape called the Agter Witsendberg plateau from here the Olifants River cares its way through mountain gorges towards Keerom and the Beaverlac Nature Reserve, found within the Olifatns River Berg. The driff at Keerom allows one to cross the river making your way North along its course towards the town of Citrusdal which is surrounded by agriculture.
Citrusdal is the last port of call so to speak for shops and fuel, from here it is a network of gravel roads taking you to and alongside the Olifants River towards the Algeria low water bridge taking your from the N7 towards Algeria and Sanddrif in the heart of the Cederberg, Though I you keep heading north along the gravel the road takes you towards the Clanwilliam dam, and the town of Clanwilliam crossing old hand made stone bridges and rock art sites along the route into town.
The Clanwilliam dam wall is a sight to see looking back across the modern cement bridge and decommissioned steel bridge one can almost not believe that a 15 meter raise in the dam wall has proposed.
The road turns east towards Wupertal to go west towards Kawer and Lutzville. Some time I wish that we could travel the true course of the river but due to equipment and logistics we stay as true as possible. The roads I travel are missing as the Olifants River is in full flow during winter and the Dorings (the main tributary of the Olifants) is helping make our travels only that much more interesting. Eventually the town of Klawer takes us on towards Vredendal and Lutzville, though some of the most amazing expanses of agricultural land I have seen in a long time.
Looking at the topographical maps and remembering Burman refer to the Olifants River as “the Nile of South Africa” in 1970. I now understand why.
From the town of Lutzville there are two roads to follow one to the North of the estuary which leads to a restricted mining area and the roads which hug the rugged west coast towards Namaqualand and Hindeklipbaai. As well as the Southern road which takes you towards the town of Papendorp and eventually south to Doringbaai or Lambersbaai.
So this route will be our research area for the next two years. A seasonal analysis of the quality of the Olifants River water will be completed so as to provide better understanding not only of the River catchment area but to also contribute towards ongoing management in the area.
Through out the projects ongoing updates will be placed on Facebook and Albums will be paced there during our field work.
As for blog posts I commit to posting informative posts in the various sections of the river from source to sea.