The South African Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) requires regulators of water resources to establish a sustainable, equitable balance between the use and protection of water resources. This includes a range of resource monitoring and protection measures that must be afforded to the rivers of South Africa. The National Aquatic Ecosystem Health Monitoring Programme is an initiative established by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), previously known as the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, to develop and implement a range of monitoring programmes for various water resources in South Africa. In 1994 the DWS initiated the South African River Health Programme (RHP). The RHP was initiated as a response to the need for more detailed information on the ecological state or wellbeing of South Africa’s river ecosystems. Monitoring information is presented to the stakeholders of water resource management in South Africa to enable and support the management of rivers and was designed to meet the following objectives:
- Measure, assess and report the ecological state of river ecosystems;
- Detect and report spatial and temporal trends in the ecological state of aquatic ecosystems;
- Identify and report emerging problems regarding aquatic ecosystems;
- Ensure that all aquatic ecosystem health reports provide scientifically relevant information for the management of aquatic ecosystems; and
- Create public capacity and environmental awareness.
From 2016 the River Health Programme will be replaced by the River Eco-Status Monitoring Programme (REMP).
The Aquatic Ecosystem Research Programme was awarded the opportunity to undertake the RHP monitoring for KwaZaulu-Natal. Accordingly, this involved undertaking Level III Ecoclassification evaluation of 44 sites across the province. This involves sampling and evaluating the wellbeing of an array of biophysical features for each sampling site.
Key issues and findings from each survey as well as the programme in its entirety will be described. The information described will be stratified according to the location of the site, in terms of the relevant primary catchment.
To access survey brief report, clic on the photo.