Besinning oor die hidrosfeer van die Vaalrivier in die omgewing van die Vredefortkoepel, 1840-2012
Tempelhoff, Johann W.N.
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Observations on the hydrosphere of the Vaal River in the vicinity of the Vredefort Dome. In the 19th century Southern Africa experienced a phase of notable and increased population mobility in the form of migrations. The San had been present in the region since pre-colonial times. By the 19th century, their presence became especially noticeable in the form of the east-to-west migration trends. At the time, the mobility of Bantuspeaking communities from north to south, since 300 AD, culminated in the Difaqane, an east-west mobility, and the "Great Trek" a south-north movement. The Vaal River drifts in the Vredefort Dome, microscopic spaces in time where natural history and that of human culture meet, form part of a network of communication routes.People attempted to "tame" the environment. They even tried to pacify the river by constructing weirs, a barrage, irrigation channels, waterways, windmills and clay dams for the purpose of storing water and generating energy. In this article attention is given to the agricultural phase of human development on the banks of the Vaal River in the Vredefort Dome starting in the 1840s. This was followed by an agriculture-mining phase. Local gold mining operations led to the founding of urban settlements, and subsequent diamond mining operations followed on the river bed and on some of the islands.Drought conditions and floods also left footprints. The agriculture-mining-industrial phase from 1910 onward increasingly resulted in the artificial regulation of the Vaal River's water level. Consequently, there were developments such as the construction and management of the Vaal River Barrage, the Vaal Dam and also the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme upstream. In recent years, downstream residents on the banks of the Vaal River have been at loggerheads with water governance sectors. Their quality of life has been jeopardised as a result of the increasing sewage pollution upstream.
- Faculty of Humanities