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Cape Town’s rivers and wetlands<h2 class="sectHeading">Important rivers and wetlands​​​​​​​</h2><p>Our fresh waters play an essential role in providing, carrying and cleaning much of our city’s water. They are also home to an incredible range of plants and creatures.</p> <span> <div class="notification with-heading dark-copy light-blue bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info fastfact">​​</i></div><div class="desc"><h4>Fast fact​</h4><p>Wetlands include lakes, marshes and seasonal wetlands. In South Africa many wetlands are known as vleis. The water found in wetlands can be saltwater, freshwater or a mix (brackish).</p></div></div></span> <p>There used to be many wetlands in Cape Town and in the Cape Flats area in particular. Most of these were seasonal – they flooded in winter and were dry in summer. The seasonal wetlands in Cape Town have been the most impacted by conversion to agriculture and drainage to enable urban development. The Isoetes Vlei at <a href="">Edith Stephens Nature Reserve</a> and seasonal salt marshes at Blouvlei are two examples of our remaining natural wetlands on the Cape Flats.</p><p>Many of the smaller wetlands have also been drained or filled in, while others, like Zeekoevlei and <a href="">Princess Vlei</a> have become permanent lakes because they receive water from stormwater drains. They are quite beautiful to explore. </p> <span> <h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​Important rivers in Cape Town</h2></span> <ul><li>Little River and Big Lotus River – these feed <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0"> </span> <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">Zeekoevlei</span></li><li>Diep River, Zand River, Keysers River and Westlake River – these feed <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0"></span> <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">Zandvlei</span></li><li>Silvermine River – reaches the sea at Fish Hoek</li><li>Lourens River and Sir Lowry’s Pass River near Somerset West</li><li>Steenbras River – feeds the Steenbras dams</li><li>Eerste River and Kuils River – flow into False Bay near Macassar</li><li>Salt River and its tributaries, which include the Liesbeek River, Black River and Elsiekraal River</li><li>Disa River in Hout Bay – provides water to the Kloof Nek Treatment Works</li><li>Diep River – drains the Malmesbury area and passes <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0"></span> <span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-0">Rietvlei </span>before reaching the sea at Milnerton </li></ul><p>For a birds-eye view of the City’s important biodiversity areas and wetlands, please see our <a href="" target="_blank">Terrestrial and Aquatic (Wetlands) Biodiversity Network Map</a>.</p><h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​Inland water quality</h2><p>​​​​​​​Cape Town's long-term aim is to be a water-sensitive city where rivers, wetlands, canals and streams are accessible, inclusive and safe to use. </p><p>Read the full <a href="" target="_blank">2019</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">2021</a> Inland Water Quality Reports for more information on the current situation.<br></p> <h4>Water Quality Dashboard </h4><p>The Inland Water Quality Dashboard is a user-friendly platform that allows you to view and monitor the quality of the City's inland water bodies.<br></p> <span> <a href="" title="Download" class="btn" target="_blank"> VIEW DASHBOARD</a>​​​​​</span> <h2 class="sectHeading">Liveable urban waterways</h2><p>Learn about the <a href="">Liveable Urban Waterway (LUW) Programme</a> and how we are rehabilitating waterways across Cape Town.</p> <span> <h2 class="sectHeading">​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Fauna and flora </h2></span> <p>Healthy rivers and wetlands have amazingly high levels of biodiversity – in other words, an extremely rich variety of plants and animals.<br></p><p>Because seasonal wetlands change from season to season, they provide different habitats for different species. Permanent vleis have a more stable ecosystem and you can find more common (but often invasive) species in these ones.</p><h4> Here are just some of the species found in or near these water systems (some permanently, some only briefly at certain times of the year):</h4><ul><li>Trees, like Bladder-nut and Small Ironwood​​</li><li>Shrubs, like fynbos, Star-apple and Wild Cotton</li><li>Marginal vegetation, like Arum Lily, Bracken fern, Restios</li><li>Freshwater fish, like Cape Kurper and Cape Galaxias</li><li>Cape Clawless Otter</li><li>Ghost Crab</li><li>Table Mountain Ghost Frog – critically endangered</li><li>Western Leopard Toad – while terrestrial in nature, the critically-endangered western leopard toad visits ponds for a brief period once a year to breed</li><li>Pied Kingfisher</li><li>Fish Eagle</li><li>Pelican</li><li>​Flamingo</li></ul><div class="notification with-heading dark-copy light-blue bg-light-grey"><div class="graphic with-border"> <i class="info fastfact">​</i></div><div class="desc"><h4>Fast fact</h4><p>The hippopotamus was once found all over the Cape Peninsula. Today <a href=""> False Bay Nature Reserve’s Rondevlei Section</a> is home to the only hippopotami found in the south-western Cape. These hippos were introduced in 1981 and 1983.</p></div></div>GP0|#5d0c7df3-e0bf-49e4-8c7a-c698a6f39976;L0|#05d0c7df3-e0bf-49e4-8c7a-c698a6f39976|Cape Town's rivers and wetlands;GTSet|#ef3a64a2-d764-44bc-9d69-3a63d3fadea1;GPP|#36458668-722c-4b2b-9451-069fee2f7463;GPP|#553ce1f7-0fea-434b-bbc1-744edbd62039;GPP|#c529c1ac-1f8d-48ae-8079-d34f4dae9c57An introduction to Cape Town’s rivers and wetlands and their creatures.0



Cape Town 2019 Inland Water Quality Report20374141GP0|#31fe4cb9-13bf-4182-84f9-d96e8a359baf;L0|#031fe4cb9-13bf-4182-84f9-d96e8a359baf|Technical reports;GTSet|#f1e8889f-f7d7-4d5b-a3f5-af0ca2e076ea;GPP|#74dbb0ce-0b0a-42e0-958b-10ee25e7fefd;GPP|#0972c695-fd19-46c4-ab5d-9601f17b780e2020-07-31T22:00:00Z
Cape Town 2021 Inland Water Quality Report28558322GP0|#31fe4cb9-13bf-4182-84f9-d96e8a359baf;L0|#031fe4cb9-13bf-4182-84f9-d96e8a359baf|Technical reports;GTSet|#f1e8889f-f7d7-4d5b-a3f5-af0ca2e076ea;GPP|#74dbb0ce-0b0a-42e0-958b-10ee25e7fefd;GPP|#0972c695-fd19-46c4-ab5d-9601f17b780e2023-04-30T22:00:00Z
Terrestrial and Aquatic (Wetlands) Biodiversity Network Map2425976GP0|#816346e9-401b-4120-ab33-f8b010e35cd1;L0|#0816346e9-401b-4120-ab33-f8b010e35cd1|Map;GTSet|#f1e8889f-f7d7-4d5b-a3f5-af0ca2e076ea;GPP|#2ee73080-1b32-4320-889d-034e60d31b3a;GPP|#0972c695-fd19-46c4-ab5d-9601f17b780e2016-08-24T22:00:00Z



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