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Hartbeespoort Dam, South Africa

Main Contributors:

Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs

Other Contributors:


Hartbeespoort Dam is a reservoir in the North West Province of South Africa Coordinates. The dam was originally designed for irrigation which is still its primary use. Hartbeespoort Dam has been renowned for its poor water quality since the mid twentieth century (Allanson & Gieskes 1961). The Dam suffers severe eutrophication, resulting from high concentrations of phosphates and nitrates in the Crocodile River, the major inflow. The primary pollution sources are industrial and domestic effluent from Gauteng . The extreme level of eutrophication is evident in the excessive growth of microscopic algae and cyanobacteria, and macrophytes such as water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). The South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry launched the Harties metsi a me (English: Harties, My Water) programme to try to find solutions to the water quality problems.

Type of regime shift

Ecosystem type

  • Freshwater lakes & rivers

Land uses

  • Urban
  • Large-scale commercial crop cultivation
  • Extensive livestock production (natural rangelands)
  • Tourism

Spatial scale of the case study

  • Local/landscape (e.g. lake, catchment, community)

Continent or Ocean

  • Africa


  • Northwest Province


  • South Africa

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Key References

  1. Allanson BR, Gieskes JMTM. 1961. Investigations into the ecology of polluted inland waters in the Transvaal, Part II: An introduction to the limnology of Hartbeespoort Dam with special reference to the effect of industrial and domestic pollution. Hydrobiologia, 18(1-2): 77-94.
  2. Harding WR, Thornton JA, Steyn G, Panuska J, Morrison IR. 2004. Hartbeespoort Dam Remediation Project (Phase 1) Action Plan Final Report (Volume II). North West Province DACE. Available from:
  3. Van Ginkel CE, Silberbauer MJ. 2007. Temporal trends in total phosphorus, temperature, oxygen, chlorophyll a and phytoplankton populations in Hartbeespoort Dam and Roodeplaat Dam, South Africa, between 1980 and 2000. African Journal of Aquatic Science 32 (1): 63-70.


Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs. Hartbeespoort Dam, South Africa. In: Regime Shifts Database, Last revised 2012-11-10 14:55:35 GMT.
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