The traditional system of Leiwater, first introduced to the water-scarce regions of the Cape Colony hundreds of year ago, is rapidly disappearing from the rural Cape landscape.
Leiwater or ‘channelled water’ is a system of leading water by open channels or furrows to properties in a town or village for the purposes of garden, allotment or farm irrigation. Each property with leiwater access rights has a beurt (turn) over a cycle of usually one week or a predetermined number of days.
|In a photograph from 1937 the canal was just an earthen furrow running past the property|
|The canal following the hillside higher up in the valley|
Traditionally, using the Leiwater irrigation system meant that your garden contained a network of earth furrows. The water is then guided from the canal through the furrows to the areas of the garden in which the water is required, strictly within the period of your leiwater turn.
|An example of the sluices letting water into dams below the canal. The same was used to let water into the minor irrigation canals for the properties in the town.|
|The 1906 canal was lined with concrete in the early 1950's and gives it its current look and feel.|