National 17.2.2017 12:42 pm

Hyacinth problem is choking tourism

Ariel view.

Ariel view.

A lack of the required equipment and staff is causing the estates to lose the battle at great cost.

For weeks now since the first summer storms dislodged masses of hyacinth in the rivers feeding the dam, especially the Magalies River in North West, estates situated on the western side of the dam have been battling choking islands of the plant, Kormorant reports.

“Over and above this problem, effluent as well as rubbish is dumped into the Crocodile River by more than 40 entities in the Hartbeespoort catchment area, over which there seems to be no control,” said Denise Sharp, manager of The Coves estate.

According to Muis Lombaard, manager for Magaliespark, the resort is losing about R80 000 a month as a result of the hyacinth problem.

“Many of our guests come for either fishing or water sport and none of that is possible now. We have already spent around R200 000 to try and clean our shore, but it is an impossible task if the government does not come to the party.”

The various estates all have their own hyacinth removal projects to try and clear their respective waterfronts.

Lombaard has been using his private pleasure boat to push the plants to the shore and a neighbour, Peter Sydney Kurz, has been using construction machinery to scoop out the hyacinth.

“We have both lost motors that have to be replaced,” Lombaard said.

READ MORE: Environmentalists clear invasive hyacinth ahead of Dusi

Concerned estate managers from Magaliespark, Magalies Golf Estate, Greenleaves, Leloko, Westlake and K’Shane have been meeting since December to discuss the problem and to try to find a solution.

“Residential estates have already spent in the region of R60 000 among themselves in labour, consumables and machinery costs since the problem escalated in October last year. A lack of the required equipment and staff is causing the estates to lose the battle at great cost. In fact, these estates have been cleaning hyacinth for the more than six years now at their own expense,” Sharp said.

“The hyacinth is currently choking the upper reaches of the dam into the Magalies River and has made the use of the dam and river for all the estates in that area virtually impossible. More devastating to the concerned estates is the fact that the ‘Metsi a Me’ project, which was well on its way to be successful in cleaning the dam, has been scrapped by the Department of Water and Sanitation and it seems that there is no effort currently made by the department to assist in cleaning the dam and river estuaries. Unfortunately, the hyacinth islands are merely being shunted from west to east while the solution is to remove most of the plants from the dam. Estates are not geared for this task and quite frankly, it is not their core business.”

A special public meeting was held on Thursday, February 16, and the outcome of the meeting is yet to be issued.

Carte Blanche is also broadcasting a programme on the issue this Sunday at 19:00.

The hyacinth problem has already resulted in loss of tourist income for the area and is also impacting on the property market.

Caxton News Service

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