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In Numbers

Located in the eastern parts of the Western Cape, the Outeniqua water source area supplies George, Oudtshoorn and the Garden Route area with water.

Size: 292 480 ha

Main Rivers

The Groot Brak and Olifants rivers flow from this water source area.

Did You Know?

  • The name “Outeniqua” means “honey collectors” in Khoi San. All of South Africa’s hops are grown in 2 small catchments within this area.
  • The National Protected Areas Expansion Strategy seeks to fully protect (100%) the Outeniqua water source area.
  • This water source provides 100% of water supplied to George and 94% of water in the Mosselbay water supply scheme.


Land Use (in %)

  • Mining 0.01%
  • Wetlands 1.29%
  • Urban 2.93%
  • Cultivation (irrigated) 1.94%
  • Waterbodies 1.23%
  • Plantation/Woodlot 14.12%
  • Cultivation (dryland) 8.47%
  • Natural 70.01%

30% Protected Areas

Only 30% of this water source area is protected. This includes one national park, one special nature reserve, two mountain catchments, three forest protected area, four provincial nature reserves and three local nature reserves. Notably, the Garden Route National Park and Goukamma Nature Reserve are within this water source area.

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Threat Status

  • River Ecosystems
  • Wetland Ecosystems

River Ecosystems

Approximately 70% of this water source is in natural condition. Nevertheless, 18% of its river ecosystems are critically endangered.

  • 18% Critically Endangered
  • 5% Vulnerable
  • 77% Least Threatened

Wetland Ecosystems

Up to 46% of wetland ecosystems in the Outeniqua water source area are critically endangered.

  • 46% Critically Endangered
  • 25% Endangered
  • 29% Least Threatened


Consider legal and management mechanisms or a combination of mechanisms, including mechanisms in the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, National Water Act, National Environmental Management Act and National Forest Act that may potentially mitigate risks of fires, secure our water resources and at the same time protect biodiversity.

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.