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Rietvlei Dust Storm - 17 March 2007
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Dust storms from Rietvlei during the dry summer months is a frequent occurrence. This usually leads to numerous complaints from affected residents and calls on the City Council to take urgent steps to prevent dust blowing from the vlei.

Summer dust storms are a natural occurrence on dry vleis in the winter rainfall area. The vleis dry up during the summer months and strong southeasterly winds blow clouds of dust from the exposed areas of the vlei. This is particularly prevalent on the west coast, from Rietvlei northwards to the Orange River mouth. Occasionally this is caused by man's activities - in some areas farmers used to plough dry wetlands and plant crops - but this is not so common these days.

The dust storm is nature's way of redistributing the rich sediments that accumulate during the wet months onto the adjoining veld. Most of the westcoast veld, particularly closer to the sea, is poor in nutrients. Dust blowing from wetlands serve as a natural fertiliser; it delivers a considerable nutrient load to adjacent soils.

Dust blowing from Rietvlei is not a new occurrence, there is not much about dust storms in historical records of Rietvlei, but one can safely assume that it has been a regular occurrence for hundreds of years. In the past it was not regarded as a nuisance to people, only since the development of Table View has it become a problem.

There is nothing much the City Council can do to prevent the dust blowing. Water is being fed into the dry areas to dampen the surface, and this does help a bit. In the past when water trucks were used to spray the area, the situation actually became worse. The trucks cracked the surface crust and more dust than ever before came from those areas.

View some pictures of Saturday's dust storm in the next pages.
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