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In Numbers

Situated to the northeast of Cape Town, the Boland Mountains water source area is responsible for supplying the City of Cape Town with 97.1% of its water. It also provides water to Worcester, Robertson, Swellendam, Overberg and the Winelands Municipality.

Size: 618 608 ha

Main Rivers

The Berg, Breede and Riviersonderend rivers are the main rivers which flow from the Boland Mountains water source area.

Did You Know?

  • The Breede River is the largest river in the Western Cape and is a key resource for many economic activities in the region.
  • The Boland Mountains water source area supports over 4 million people.
  • This water source area is South Africa’s frog hotspot and is home to a large variety of frog species, including mossy, marsh, and micro frogs.
  • The “rooibos tea” colour of the river flowing from this water source area is caused by tannins that has leached from fynbos found on the mountains.


Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.03%
  • Wetlands 2.28%
  • Urban 2.71%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 12.90%
  • Waterbodies 2.04%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 2.28%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 8.19%
  • Natural 69.78%

68% Protected Areas

Approximately 68% of this water source area is under legal protection. This includes five mountain catchment areas, fifteen forest protected areas, eight provincial nature reserves and ten local nature reserves. The Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve and Jonkershoek Nature Reserve are within this water source area.

  • 5
  • 15
  • 8
  • 10
  • 2

Threat Status

  • Wetland Ecosystems

Approximately 70% of this water source is still in its natural condition. However, approximately 79% of the wetland ecosystems found within this water source are critically endangered and 12% is endangered.

  • 79% Critically Endangered
  • 16% Endangered
  • 1% Vulnerable
  • 5% Least Threatened


In response to the most severe drought in 30 years, the City of Cape Town recently implemented level five water restrictions. This water source area supplies the City with 97.1% of its water. What legal mechanisms could be used to ensure the optimal functioning of this water source area in light of threats such as alien invasive vegetation and large-scale plantations?

Interactive Map

South Africa has 22 water source areas spread across five provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Limpopo). The total size of our water source areas is 12.32 million hectares. A number of these areas extend and are shared with Lesotho and Swaziland; approximately 1.91 million hectares in Lesotho and 0.93 million hectares in Swaziland.

The total volume of water supplied by these areas per year is approximately 2 457 million cubic metres. The greatest volume of recharge is generated by the Southern Drakensberg, followed by the Eastern Cape Drakensberg and the Boland Mountains.