An investigation of water quality regulation by the Karsriviervlei, Bredasdorp
Munnik, Magen C.
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Studies have shown that ecosystem services that are provided by wetlands are beneficial to the improvement of water quality regulation. Some of these ecosystem services may include sequestration of sediment, toxicants and nutrients by wetlands, which contributes to the quality of water in rivers downstream and thereby, the health and well-being of humanity and the environment. However, studies have also shown that there has been insufficient research done on how natural wetlands regulate water quality. Therefore, this study investigated the regulation of water quality by a wetland located in an agricultural setting in the Western Cape. This type of research was essential to South Africa as the country is experiencing a great loss and degradation of wetlands, even though national policies and legislation are geared towards their protection and rehabilitation. The study was aimed at evaluating the assumption that wetlands improve the quality of water in river systems, using the Karsriviervlei as a case study and by invoking two objectives. The first objective was to investigate the spatial and temporal variation in selected water quality variables upstream, through the wetland and downstream. The second objective was to investigate the hydrogeomorphic characteristics and processes of the Karsriviervlei that determined the effectiveness of wetlands, in regulating water quality. Furthermore, the study also consisted of two methods that provided an understanding of how natural wetlands regulate water quality.