Ecology Programmes Wetlands Water-wise in De Rust

De Rust Wetlands Water-wise is a community-based land and water conservation initiative from Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve involving a constructed wetland, degraded agricultural land and integrated water resource management. It is intended to serve as a ‘proof of concept’ that constructed wetlands significantly reduce polluted run-off and convert waste water into a resource to grow the green economy.


In the small town of De Rust in the Klein Karoo region, water is an extremely scarce resource with an average 240mm rainfall per annum. It suffers from water shortages every summer. Poor management and unsustainable usage of water are part of the problem. For example open ponds are polluted by waste water. Because of its small size, De Rust provides a perfect opportunity to pilot a constructed wetland system.

The objectives of the De Rust Wetlands Water-wise Project are to increase water supply and improve water quality for community agricultural use by reconstructing an artificial/constructed wetland. In addition the project aims to promote food security and ecologically sustainable livelihoods through climate-smart agriculture.

The De Rust community’s water supply will be augmented by cleaning the effluent from sewage ponds to irrigation standard. The proposed method, known as ‘artificial” or ‘constructed wetlands’ is cheap and is used globally to scrub nutrient-rich effluent water. The polished or scrubbed water will be utilized to irrigate micro-farm enterprises, on land made available by the adjacent olive estate.

Key features

Landscape  West Cape, where three global biodiversity hotspots meet: Fynbos, Succulent Karoo, Maputo-Albany Thicket
  Gouritz Biosphere Reserve: 50.000 square kilometres
One-year goal  Build and operationalise artificial wetland
  Control pollution from sewage and waste water
  Clean irrigation water (30.000 m3)
  Employment of 30+ local people