Upgrading Kuils River

Developing a sustainable River Corridor Plan for the City of Cape Town

Situated at the gateway of the Cape Winelands, Kuils River is an important town connecting the east of Cape Town’s CBD with the winelands. A key part of the town’s asset base is its river, which had been in poor condition.

Zutari, working with other partners, co-created a plan for the 2km of the river flowing from a development site, starting with a series of workshops with City officials and ending with a fit-for-purpose technical solution.

The 2km long section of the Kuils River, in the Stikland and Bellville area, had been in poor condition for years. With uncontrolled erosion of the sandy bed and banks and encroachment of existing developments, the river became increasingly difficult to manage by the City of Cape Town – putting the river channel and sections of the City’s water and sewerage infrastructure at risk.

Zutari, working with other partners, was tasked to develop a sustainable and environmentally acceptable River Corridor Plan for the 2km of the river flowing through a development site. Adopting principles of human-centered design, the River Corridor Plan was workshopped through several iterations with the Stormwater, Parks, Environmental and Maintenance Departments of the City of Cape Town, before being approved and adopted for implementation.

Adopting principles of human-centred design, the River Corridor Plan was workshopped through several iterations with various stakeholders.
This project was recognised as winner in the category ‘Projects with a value of less than R50 million’ at the Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) AON Engineering Excellence Awards in 2021.

A core feature of the designed solution includes a 50 m wide, terraced, trapezoidal, grass-lined floodplain, which contains the 100-year flood. Various species of indigenous vegetation were also strategically positioned and planted on the floodplain.

With a holistic solution in mind, the team ensured that 2.4 ha of seasonal and permanent wetlands were constructed to compensate for the loss of wetland habitat in the development area. The wetlands are designed to be fed by the river during the occasional overtopping of a lowered riverbank in this area. They also serve as stormwater detention ponds and compensating flood storage facilities, and promote biodiversity.

The Kuils River Upgrade – which is in line with the City of Cape Town’s Liveable Urban Waterways Programme – exemplifies Zutari’s commitment to co-creating engineered impact that is sustainable and improves people’s lives.


*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020.  Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.

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