Berg River Dam Built to Allow Forsimulated Flooding to Feed River

Article excerpt

BYLINE: MELANIE GOSLING

THE closing of the sluice gates on the newly-completed Berg River dam has been postponed to allow the early winter floods to run through freely as part of the operating plan to keep the river alive.

And once the dam is fully functional, the gates will be opened at certain times to simulate floods, which are essential for a healthy river system.

The Berg River Dam is the first dam in the country to be designed so that it can simulate natural flooding.

Environmentalists say it will serve as a test case to see whether it is possible to operate a dam that complies with the Water Act, which requires all new dams, or all new extractions from a river, to ensure that the environmental needs of the river are met.

This means leaving enough water in the river so that it can function as an ecosystem and can continue to support the plants and animals that live in and around it. There are other countries that do this, but South Africa is the first to write it into law.

Dana Grobler, an ecologist from Cape Action for People and the Environment, said although Cape Town would start getting its first water from the new dam in December, the river would start getting its share long before then. …