Global rowing regatta breathing new life into Roodeolaat dam

The World Rowing Masters Regatta 2023 has already made a lasting impact on Roodeplaat Dam and its surroundings before the start of the global showpiece on 21 September.

The infrastructure investment into the venue for the four-day global event will not only bring the water quality and the facilities up to international standards but will help improve the biodiversity in the nature reserve located on the shores of the Roodeplaat Dam.

The local organising committee, with the help of the Gauteng Provincial Government, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), Balwin Properties, and Betway, has been working full tilt in delivering a world-class regatta since South Africa was awarded the hosting rights in 2019.

From 2020 to mid-2022, dense mats of hyacinth covered the course, making the dam unrowable. Work to weed out the invasive aquatic plants involved the removal using pitchforks and nets. This helped control the invasive species and ensured that training and regattas continued at the dam.

In addition, the organisers needed to address poor water quality because of a lack of maintenance at the Zeekoegat Waste Water Treatment Plant. They partnered with Blue Planet, who installed nanobubble technology to help oxygenate the water supply and are doing regular bioremediation treatment on the water. This has resulted in improvement in the water quality on the course and around the jetties.

The banks of the dam have also undergone significant rehabilitation, including bank stabilisation and the planting of indigenous plants along the shoreline.

Significant infrastructure investment has been made to the facility, including the installation of three new jetties, and blade racks. A security fence has been erected and the roads within the rowing facility have been paved. Improvements to the Roodeplaat clubhouse include refurbishments of the deck, toilets and kitchen, painting, waterproofing of the deck, a new boathouse, and new windows and doors. Venue water consumption has received attention with enhancements made to the water reticulation system reducing venue dependence on borehole water.

Hosting the first World Rowing regatta on African soil will not only give the sport a much-needed shot in the arm but will also ensure that Roodeplaat Dam takes its rightful place as a water sports hub in Gauteng.