Flood damage dating back to 2021 cause the main dam wall to be compromised.  Ever since Management of the Botanical Gardens (upon advice of a dam engineer) has kept the water level low to reduce the risk of dam failure.  Repair and maintenance work to fix the dam wall and overflow requires the dam to be emptied to be able to access with heavy machinery. 

Because the main dam of the Botanical Gardens falls within a protected area and is within proximity of a natural wetland, prior Environmental Authorisation is required in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), as well as General Authorisation in terms of the National Water Act (NWA), prior to the repair/maintenance work commencing.  This is on condition that the dam footprint and storage capacity may not be increased beyond its current size/volume.

To date, an aquatic specialist has assessed the maintenance work that must be done (SMEC Consulting Engineers have compiled a method statement for the work to be undertaken) and provided a detailed Maintenance Management Plan that stipulates the Do’s and Don’ts so that the Contractor will better understand the environmental conditions and restrictions.  Furthermore, the necessary Pre-Application meeting has taken place with the Competent Authority in which they agreed to the procedure of a Maintenance Management Plan (MMP), as well as the stakeholder engagement requirements.  In addition, the George Municipality has applied for a Forestry License to relocate (transplant) the small protected trees (mostly yellowwoods) observed along the dam wall.  Care will be taken not to damage the mature yellowwood trees at the point of access into the dam basin (heavy machinery will be working in the dam basin for an extended period).  It is noted that the small yellowwood trees present along the dam wall, will not be replanted back onto the dam wall once the maintenance works are complete (they will be replanted elsewhere in the Garden), as tree roots compromise the integrity of a dam wall.

The MMP must be approved by the National Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environmental Affairs (DFFE) before the maintenance work may commence.  It is important to note that the maintenance work on the dam will be monitored by an Environmental Control Officer (ECO) for the duration of the repair works.  Furthermore, an independent aquatic specialist will also assist and oversee the works, especially with regards to the protocol and best-practice for accommodating amphibian species that may require catch & release when the dam will be emptied.

To inform DFFEs decision on the MMP, the document will be circulated for stakeholder review and comment for a period of 30-days extending from Friday, 8 September 2023 – 9 October 2023 whereafter the DFFE will consider comments and responses in addition the MMP.

Any comments/submission must be addressed to Cape EAPrac (attention Louise-Mari van Zyl), via email ([email protected]) or post (PO Box 2070, George, 6530) and must reach the above-mentioned no later than 9 October 2023 in order to be considered.  For any queries about the environmental considerations and process, please feel free to contact 044-874 0365.

Board of Trustees: GRBG

7 September 2023