In a bid to halt the losses of millions of rands in agricultural produce, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture has channelled close to R1 million emergency funding into Clanwilliam after a canal break earlier this month.
The Provincial Department of Agriculture has spent R975 000 on a generator and water pumps to stabilise the water supply to farms and residents in the area.
Alan Winde, MEC of Economic Opportunities, is set to conduct a site visit to the area later this week.
MEC Winde explained that a section of one of the canals running off the Clanwilliam dam collapsed at the beginning of this month.
“It is a 184m section of the canal near Klawer. The break dramatically reduced water supply to farms downstream. More than 300 farmers, 6 000 hectares of irrigation and residents in nearby communities were affected. This presented a huge threat to the farmers working with table and wine grapes as well as vegetables. It also threatened seasonal jobs for local residents,” said MEC Winde.
As an emergency measure, this funding will ensure that water is pumped across the damaged section. MEC Winde said this is an interim solution.
“A plan to fix the canal will need to follow. This is the actually responsibility of the National Department of Water and Sanitation.”
Under the National Water Act, the Lower Olifants River Water Users Association is responsible for the maintenance and management of the facilities.
With the costs of repairing the aging infrastructure adding up, this association did not have the funds to purchase the additional pumps and generator.
MEC Winde said: “While the infrastructure is owned by the National Department of Water and Sanitation, the Western Cape Government stepped in to avert a water crisis in the area.”
When he visits the area later this week, MEC Winde will meet with the local association. Details of MEC Winde’s visit will be released shortly.