Friends of Stellenbosch Mountain

Click on the thumbnails for full-size images.

Boreholes in Paradyskloof: Updates

A recent article by top scientists in Veld and Flora, the publication of the Botanical Society of South Africa, is clear that current drilling practices must be revised urgently and the long-term consequences especially for the water tables and ecosystems be understood.

Apparently, there has been instruction from provincial government that some of the borehole sites should be rehabilitated. That is good news. The results so far are, however, not encouraging. Here are some photographs of the Borehole B site drilled in June 2017 and described below. There has been some cursory raking of the ground, not even by elevation contours to prevent further erosion, but downhill. As predicted, the silt and drilling remnants are now being transported into the vegetation downhill.

Boreholes in Paradyskloof

The Municipality has started drilling boreholes in accordance with the Drought Response Plan which is dated 9 June 2017. The DEADP directive of 7 August 2017 seems to be the document which is supposed to govern these actions.

On Farm 369, there are currently two boreholes as marked in on the image below. Both are sited within metres of the respective rivers and wetlands. The wetlands were identified in the 2006 botanical study by Dr C Boucher as among the most threatened ecosystems in South Africa.

The locations of the two boreholes are shown in the adjacent image. Compare that to the Boucher botanical map, on which Borehole B is marked with a white X (here is the full-sized original):

Borehole A

Borehole A was completed approximately on 17 November 2017. The site has not been cleaned up as visible on these images:

Borehole B

Borehole B was started on 17 or 18 November 2017. The images below date from 18 November.
First the view from the forest side, taken with the wetlands in the foreground:

and the same area one week later, seen from the mountainside:

Before drilling started, about 60 by 30 metres square metres (i.e. an area of approximately 1800 square metres) of fynbos had been bulldozed. It is unclear who exactly did the bulldozing.

The bulldozed ground and debris was pushed onto the banks and into the adjacent watercourse (which is currently dry) over a length of about 20 metres:

This while the Boucher 2006 botanical study recommended that a minimum 30 metre buffer zone must be maintained around stream communities (see Section 3.3). Initially there had been no tape cordoning off the area. An hour after the above photos had been taken, the area was cordoned off:

One week later on 26 November, the borehole had been closed and the contractor had left:

but by 9 December drilling had resumed:

Either way, the damage has been done. It will take a long time to rehabilitate the area, even if no further activity takes place.