On Thursday, 30 September 2021, George mayor Leon van Wyk and Western Cape provincial minister of agriculture Ivan Meyer visited the site of the George Ecosystem Restoration for Watershed Health and Replenishment initiative to observe the progress of the project.
The area of George is currently the only region in Africa that is suitable for growing hops - a vital ingredient in the water-intensive process of brewing beer. The effects of climate change, including changing rainfall patterns as well as fluctuating and rising temperatures, are putting increased pressure on water availability in the George region.
The seven-step George Ecosystem Restoration for Watershed Health and Replenishment initiative focuses on convening stakeholders, identifying specific local water challenges and potential solutions, implementing agreed solutions with governance and financing mechanisms in place, communicating progress and measuring impact.
In addition to the threat that climate change poses on the water supply in George, the presence of non-native vegetation in the Waboomskraal and Herold catchments represents a major challenge to water security in the region.
Several options were considered to improve water availability in the local context such as shifting on-farm water use practices and improving infrastructure by fixing leaks and desilting dams. The initiative focused its efforts on the removal of invasive non-native vegetation because of the significant potential benefit to businesses, local communities and ecosystems.
There is a significant social imperative that we aim to tackle with our watershed management process and this includes job creation for the surrounding communities. In addition to implementing green infrastructure, this project has employed, trained and equipped local people and farmers to protect, conserve and steward their watershed.”
Hammann says SAB is committed to bridging solutions to the growing water challenges across communities and supply chain. “Our goal is that by 2025, 100% of our communities in high-stress areas will have measurably improved water availability and quality,” Josh Hammann said.