Weed harvester for Zandvlei will boost environmental health, economy

26 Jun 2023 in Where We Govern

In a boost for wetland environmental management, a specialised weed harvesting boat for Zandvlei is on track for delivery by the end of November 2023, the first of three new vessels that will be delivered by the end of 2025. Rietvlei is set for a weed harvester delivery by February 2024, and a second vessel for Zandvlei is scheduled for delivery in the 2024/25 financial year. This morning Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis visited the factory in Paarden Island where the contractor is building and assembling the brand new weed harvester for Zandvlei. Read more below:

Weedharvester construction visit Mayor

A weed harvester is a specialised machine that operates like a boat on water with blades underneath for the cutting of weeds. It is equipped to gather, transport and upload water plants. In Zandvlei in particular, a weed harvester is used to cut pondweeds and also to remove algae build-up in the marina. This not only improves the environmental health of the wetland, but makes the vlei more navigable and safer for watercrafts, boosting the local leisure economy around the vlei.

‘I was encouraged by the progress on the weed harvester construction during my visit to the factory this morning. Teams have informed me that the vessel is on track to navigate Zandvlei’s waters by the end of November with significant environmental and economic benefits for all those who live, work and play around this important recreational vlei. The hull has been built and is currently being welded, and the conveyor system designs have been finalised, with construction to commence soon.

‘This machine will help us keep the vlei cleaner and improve water quality over time. I can also confirm that a second mechanical weed harvester for Rietvei will be delivered early in the new year if all goes as planned, with a further vessel set for Zandvlei in 2024/25. In Cape Town we are building towards a vision of cleaner, environmentally healthy waterways with the firm belief that the best days for our vleis are ahead,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

The new weed harvester for Zandvlei will be warranted for at least 24 months. The maintenance service plan covers a period of 2 000 working hours, and includes all services and routine maintenance costs, labour costs and parts.

‘The City’s Fleet Management Department is monitoring the project plan and timelines to ensure all remains on track for delivery. They’ve been doing regular site inspections and are keeping a close eye on everything,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, Alderman Theresa Uys.

‘Apart from using a mechanical weed harvester, the City’s Environmental Management Department also employs Expanded Public Work Programme teams to remove weeds by hand when the old weed harvester is unavailable or in for repairs. The manual labour though is subject to water quality and safety constraints.

‘Historically, we have focused on the harvesting of the macrophyte Stuckenia pectinata or Sago pondweed, but lately we have seen a shift in the community to Ruppia spiralis or Spiral tasselweed. The weed harvester also collects floating filamentous algal mats which can accumulate on the water surface in summer months.

‘I want to say a big thank you to the local residents and Zandvlei Protected Area Advisory Committee for their continuous support,’ said the City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Eddie Andrews.

In November last year, the City of Cape Town was accredited as a Wetland City. The accreditation acknowledges the City for ‘taking exceptional measures’ in protecting Cape Town’s wetlands and securing their benefits for Capetonians.

‘I’m proud to say that in Cape Town we are always looking for innovative plans to resolve challenges, and to maintain, restore, and preserve our wetlands. Working with our communities and building a network of interested and passionate residents are part of these efforts,’ said Alderman Andrews.

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