Windhoek Berg River Canoe Marathon Media Release

 No: Berg1114

8 July 2011

Great water guaranteed for Windhoek Berg

Cape Town – Organisers of the Windhoek Berg River Canoe marathon that starts in Paarl on Wednesday 13 July have reassured the record entry of paddlers that the quality and quantity of water in the river will be excellent for the four day 243km race to Port Owen in Velddrif.

While the level of the Berg river, particularly in the upper reaches below Paarl, has dropped dramatically to a modest 8 cumec flow during the uncharacteristically dry midwinter week, the race committee has confirmed that a water release has been negotiated with the Department of Water Affairs to ensure there is good water throughout the race.

“We have requested a flow of 25 cumecs for the race,” said race committee chair Andre Collins. “The release from the dam will probably start on Monday morning to ensure that the water gets downriver in time. The paddlers will probably have around 20 cumecs to enjoy, which is a great level for the race,” he added.

The confirmed water release will be welcome news for the 355 paddlers that have already entered, particularly those that have been battling with their training on the low river at present.

Collins also highlighted that the rolling bluegum eradication programme being driven by the DWAF Working For Water programme had also had a major impact on the river.

“The clearing of treeblocks has been simply massive,” said Collins. “Right now there is only one spot where a tree block might need a portage, and they are working on it at the moment. The removal of the treeblocks has been amazing.”

“In fact the impact that the cutting and removal of the bluegums has had is almost surreal,” he added. “I paddled recently from Hermon and I actually got quite disorientated.”

“I saw farmlands that we have not been able to see from the river for decades. Hopefully this will see the return of the natural vegetation and the palmiet channel’s that were so typical of the Berg,” said Collins.

He also confirmed that the latest readings on the water quality were positive and showed that the concerns from the recent Swartland marathon were now a thing of the past.

“The water is clean and clear,” said Collins. “The problems with the Swartland marathon were simply a case of bad timing. The race coincided with the first major storms of the winter and that inevitably results in pollution from runoff from the banks.”

Collins added that the likely water for the race was as close to perfect as the race organisers could have hoped for.

“The Berg river dam is over 80% full, so it has the capacity to control water levels in case of any heavy rains. The 20 cumecs we should be racing on is ideal and clean, as the water is very clean and comes from high up in the mountains,” he said.

He added that the expected 20 cumec level actually made the paddling faster along key sections, as the river flow was concentrated in the banks, resulting in a quicker flow when compared to fuller conditions when the river bursts its banks.

The Windhoek Berg River Canoe Marathon takes place from 13 to 16 July 2011, preceded by a time trial on 12 July.

More information can be found at

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"The 20 cumecs we should be racing on is ideal and clean, as the water is very clean and comes from high up in the mountains,” said Andre Collins, chair of the 2011 Windhoek Berg river canoe marathon organising committee. Jon Vellacott/
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Treeblocks like this one should be a thing of the past in the Windhoek Berg River canoe marathon thanks to the Working For Water programme that is removing bluegum trees from the river basin. Mouton van Zyl/
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