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Thread: Witte River - Info needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Witte River - Info needed

    Good morning guys

    I am especially interested in the older guys' memories here.

    Just some background (copied off tourism sites) first:

    In 1880 Gawie Retief completed an ambitious project on behalf of the Bovlei's farming community: to channel water from the Witterivier across the watershed into the Kromrivier to provide irrigation water to his fellow Bovlei farmers. Today this canal in Bainskloof irrigates more than 600 ha of fertile vineyards and vine nurseries. This "river piracy" allows the Witterivier to flow into both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

    The idea of building a canal to augment the Kromrivier's water was first proposed in 1815 by Daniel Johannes Rossouw, also a farmer in the Bovlei. He wanted the government to help him fund the project and submitted his proposal to the authorities, who in turn sent out Captain D'Escury to inspect the site. To D'Escury's surprise, the Bovlei farmers showed no interest in building a furrow that would - they feared - giver Rossouw control over their water source. Needless to say, the canal was never built.

    A few years later, while working on the Bainskloof Pass, Andrew Geddes Bain heard of the idea, and offered to build the furrow at a cost of 400 pounds. The farmers in turn dismissed the offer as being too expensive. Instead, the appointed a fellow Bovlei farmer, Gawie Retief of the farm Kanetfontein, to build the canal for them. Retief completed the furrow in 1860 and almost three times Bain's quote. Nevertheless, the results were so pleasing, that Retief received a bonus for his efforts.

    One cannot underestimate the amount of work that went into building the furrow. Dynamite had not been invented yet. Rocks were shattered with gunpowder, or the more cost effective method of building large fires on top of the rock, and then dousing the heated stone with cold water.

    It was also reported in a previous issue of the Farmer’s Weekly, that the water is in fact now used to irrigate approximately 670 ha of vineyards and vine nurseries.

    Further research on the internet (DWAF documents) indicated that the farmers are only entitled to extract a maximum of 5 million m³/a (not sure of the symbols used but suppose it indicates Five Million Cubic Metres per Annum) by way of Gawie se Water. This would apparently be in terms of their registered water consumption rights but I have been unable to verify the source of this entitlement.


    No for my question:

    I have struggling to resolve the Witte problem for almost eighteen months now and it is virtually impossible to make any progress. Basically, the sluice gate at Gawie se water has been forced shut. In practise it means that the entire summer flow of the river is being diverted down the side of the mountain. The Witte below this point stagnates and as such pretty much all indigenous and alien fish have dissapeared.

    My knowledge of the new water act is extremely limited but as far as I understand, water users were entitled to register their existing (as exercised) water rights usage as at 1996.

    It is my understanding that, until only a few years ago, the sluice gate was manually opened and closed on a daily basis by the water users. This is no longer the case and what I need to find out is, in terms of what the sluice was manually opened and closed? There should be some form of an agreement or court order. DWAF can not find such a document.

    Is there anybody on here who can give me some info?

    Thanks guys
    MC

  2. #2
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    Default

    BUMP!!!!!!

    Can nobody give me any info?????

  3. #3
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    Default

    MC, cant be much help with regards to who has the rights to open and close the sluice and how often this is done, but going back about 14 years or so there was a chap on the CPS committee who was the coordinator and spokesman between the CPS and Ninand Sham. He was the chief lobbyist against the proposed damming of the Witte. I can't for the life of me remember his name, but maybe one or two of the other committee members of the time will remember him. If anyone can give you info in this regard, he can.

    Sorry, that's the best I can do
    "Innocence is a wild trout. But we humans, being complicated, have to pursue innocence in complex ways" - Datus Proper

  4. #4
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    Jan 2007
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    Durbanville
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    15

    Default

    Hi MC

    Would Jan Rossouw not be able to help, with his knowledge of water affairs?

    Regards

    Peter Vermaak

  5. #5
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    Blouberg
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    MC

    In 2003 approx, I parked at Gawie se Water and hiked up the side of the mountain to get to the hiking trail near beat 4. I met a gentleman hiking down and we had a chat. Apparently he worked for the farmer "below" and his task was to hike up the mountain to open and close the sluice. I will attempt to find out who the farmer is and maybe you can talk to him?

    The other option is to jam the sluice closed so that all the flow goes down the Witte and wait for the complaints to the CPS?

    It's hard to believe that DWAF have no info on the regultaion of this IBT system though.

  6. #6
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    Hi there Neil and Peter

    Thanks for the responses.

    Neil, I just had a chat to John Brink about the situation. Let me clarify the actual position at the weir. The first sluice gate which allows water to go down the furrow has been removed completely. Then, the second sluise gate in the furrow, which could also allow water to go back into the main river, was jammed shut so that no water could get to the river via this route.

    I have the contact details for the secretary of the water users' association and will call him once I have some more information. I am somewhat concerned about speaking to them until then because I was informed by DWAF that they claimed that they have always taken the entire summer flow. I can not see them doing an about turn on this attitude.

    I must have something more concrete which I can take to DWAF. I will however appreciate any contact details or other info which you may track down.

    Peter

    Yes, I know Jan very well and am aware of his background but somehow never thought of speaking to him. Will give him a ring to see if he has any thoughts.

    Thanks guys
    MC

  7. #7
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    Sep 2006
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    Default Just to give you an idea

    This is whats left of the top gate brakket by the weir. You can see it is totally bent out of shape and you will not be able to slide a gate down it again.

    top main divertion.jpg

    This is the jammed gate on the side, the Witte's last hope. It's so badly damaged and wedged in by all the ham"moer"ing, that I don't think you will be able to get it out again.

    Side gate.jpg
    We don't stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing!
    ~ George Bernard Shaw ~

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Bellville
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    Quote Originally Posted by chriss View Post
    This is the jammed gate on the side, the Witte's last hope. It's so badly damaged and wedged in by all the ham"moer"ing, that I don't think you will be able to get it out again.
    As geweld nie werk nie gebruik jy nie genoeg nie
    They've got us surrounded - the poor bastards!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Western Cape
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    91

    Default

    I am replying on the behalf of Francois, we work and Farm together here in Wellington. The bit that I know about this is dangerous as farmers can get quite "heilig" about water issues.

    The farmer manager you need to contact is Hendrik Loubser of Doolhof. I have personally seen them driving upthe gravel access road as recently as March. They have the keys for the gate. You could also speak to Deon Rossouw of Nature Conservation.
    As for the sluice becomming unusable, to who's benefit is that? Who's responsibility is it to keep the sluice in working order? and who monitors that everyone is doing their jobs?

    It might be interesting to know that some wine farms in the area have Biodiversity status and this might be contrary to the Witte's demise.

    good luck
    farmer and friend of Witte

  10. #10
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    Up to about 3 or 4 years ago, I used to fish the Witte regularly.
    The sluice was always set to such an extent that some water flowed down the Witte.

    As Francois mentioned, water and farmers, you could be talking war.
    If the farmers had all the water for the last couple of years, there is no way that they will say it has only been like that for 3 or 4 years. they will maintain it has been like that for ever.

    Another avenue that you could investigate is the Mountain club members.
    The hut is close to the one pool. The time that they would most likely use it, would be in the summer. They would also be able to tell you if there was water flowing in those times.

    Quite a few mountain club guys are members of the CPS and they should be able to give you more names that could help you.
    Korrie Broos

    Don't go knocking on Death's door, ring the bell and run like hell. He hates it. (anon)
    Nymphing, adds depth to your fly fishing.
    Nymphing, is fly fishing in another dimension

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