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Maintenance of Lower Silvermine Wetland allows natural habitat to flourish<span><p style="text-align:justify;">Towards the end of the breeding season of the endangered Western Leopard Toad (WLT) from July to January, and once it became safe for both the toads and their offspring, the Catchment, Stormwater, and River Management (CSRM) branch began maintenance of the Lower Silvermine Wetland (LSW).</p><p style="text-align:justify;">As part of the current phase, approximately 79 000m<sup>2</sup> of wetland will undergo dredging to remove silt, alien vegetation and reeds. The dredging will start from the WLT Pond and extend all the way down to the bottom, near Main Road.<br></p> <figure class="subtopic-fullsize-img"> <img src="" class="responsive" alt="" style="width:1321px;" /> </figure>​​</span><span><p style="text-align:justify;">This initiative is a part of the City's ongoing river maintenance designed to enhance inland water quality, a primary objective within the City's water goals. For Phase 1 of the project, R6 million was allocated and now for Phase 2, costs are estimated at R3 million for work, which is expected to be completed by the end of June 2024.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The benefits include: </p><ul><li><strong>Breeding habitat for the endangered WLT, birds and fish</strong>: LSW was awarded conservation status by CapeNature as the wetlands is an essential breeding ground of the WTL. The toads travel up to 2,5 km to the breeding ponds to lay their eggs.  Once they leave the ponds, the eggs hatch and the tadpoles feed on algae situated at the bottom of the ponds.  It is essential that the ponds are kept fairly open so that light can reach the bottom, enabling algae to grow.<br><br> <strong>Promoting the growth of indigenous plants by removing homogenous reed beds:</strong><strong> </strong>Currently, the reed beds have expanded and proliferated due to siltation. Siltation of the ponds changes the depth of the water making it shallower, which is to the advantage of the reeds.  Under natural flow, the reeds would drown in deeper water profiles and result in sections of open water, bringing about a diversity of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants instead. Furthermore, the reeds have been creeping up the river embankments and displacing plant species from the Strandveld vegetation type which are an endangered veld type.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Flood risk to residential properties: </strong>The current levels of siltation in the ponds have resulted in the decreased hydrological capacity necessary for flood prevention. Left unattended, the ponds will be unable to prevent flood waters from damaging adjacent residential properties. </li></ul><ul><li><strong>A Liveable Urban Waterway: </strong>The LSW has been used as a reference location as to what an urban waterway should look like – an interface between the environment, people and wellbeing.  Other waterways within the city are being modelled after LSW signifying how important proper maintenance of the wetlands are for society.  <br></li></ul> <figure class="subtopic-fullsize-img"> <img src="" class="responsive" alt="" style="width:802px;" /> </figure>​​</span><span><p style="text-align:justify;">'The importance of well-maintained inland waterways cannot be emphasised more. They are places where recreational activities can be enjoyed, while also being safe for wildlife to thrive, keeping our diverse ecosystems alive. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">'Liveable waterways and vleis can also contribute to overall environmental, physical and mental wellbeing, keeping both residents and animals healthy.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">'We encourage residents to come and enjoy the space, taking time out to walk their dogs or a leisurely stroll to hear the birds chirping and toads croaking. The greenery is serene and inviting with flowing water, set against a mountainous background.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p> <figure class="subtopic-fullsize-img"> <img src="" class="responsive" alt="" style="width:928px;" /> </figure>​​</span><p>'Fortunately, the LSW has minimal disturbance from urbanisation, due to its proximity to the Table Mountain National Park. Through the continuous efforts of Water and Sanitation, the need for extensive maintenance interventions will gradually reduce, once current work phases are completed. This will alleviate concerns resulting from siltation issues, ensuring the long-term health of the wetlands,' said Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.<br></p><p><br></p><p><strong>End</strong><br></p>2024-03-27T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891d10

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