TOPIC: Documenting Deep History: The Olifants-Doorn River Water Resources Project:
The raising of Clanwilliam Dam: Heritage Mitigation
SPEAKER: Wouter Fourie

The Clanwilliam Dam was commissioned in the early 1930s after it was found that the Van Rhynsdorp District irrigation scheme commissioned in 1923 could not provide sufficient water for scheduled irrigation during summer months. 
The Clanwilliam Dam, with a capacity of 69,86 million m3 was commissioned in 1935.  Water shortage still occurred sporadically, and in 1962 the Department of Water Affairs decided to raise the Clanwilliam Dam and the new dam wall was commissioned in 1965.
Water needs and climatic changes lead to the Department of Water and Sanitation initiating various studies to investigate a 2nd raising of the Clanwilliam Dam wall, which included an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) commissioned in 2005.

The Heritage Impact Assessment completed as part of the EIA, identified an extensive and temporal deep heritage landscape, consisting of Rock Art, Stone Age sites, Historical sites, historical industrial-related structures and landscape vistas. To mitigate the impact of the raising of the Dam wall and the subsequent seasonal inundation of such heritage features, the Report recommended a set of measures to be implemented before inundation.

The main measures included:

  1. The relocation of two rock art panels;
  2. Documentation of 29 rock art sites;
  3. Excavation and documentation of 11 Stone Age Sites;
  4. Excavation and recording of 10 historical structures and complexes of structures;
  5. Mapping and documentation of the original Old Cape road;
  6. Relocation of 60 graves from four historic cemeteries;
  7. Documentation of oral history around the dam; and
  8. Documentation of the cultural landscape.

This talk will provide a background to the project with specific attention to:

  1. Developing of a methodology for documenting such an immense landscape;
  2. Putting together and managing a multi-disciplinary team
  3. The identification, excavation and documentation of historic complexes.
  4. Incorporating archival documentation in their interpretation and using oral history as confirmatory evidence of interpretation.
  5. Relocation of the rock art;
  6. Relocation of graves – closing and renewing family histories. Providing closure to families that have moved away from their ancestral farms and in other cases providing renewed family bonds with the ancestral farms;
  7. Identifying further research opportunities through fieldwork.

Wouter Fourie

Wouter Fourie is a Director and one of the founding members of PGS Heritage. He has been involved in Heritage Resources Management for the past 19 years acting as a specialist consultant on various high profile projects involving heritage and archaeology. He has served as project manager on more than 500 heritage impact assessments and grave relocation projects for various environmental consultants, engineering firms, mining companies and developers all over Southern Africa. He has also worked on heritage projects in Botswana, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Wouter holds a BA (Hon) (Cum Laude) in Archaeology and is currently engaged in an MPhil in the Conservation of the Built Environment at UCT.

His primary expertise covers Heritage impact management and project analysis, Archaeological input in surveys, mitigation and management, Grave Relocation management and consultation, Historical Research, GIS management and technical liaisons.

Wouter is accredited by the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners (APHP) as a Professional Heritage Practitioner, Amafa and ASAPA as a Professional Archaeologist and has CRM grading as a Principal Investigator in Grave Relocations and Field Director in Iron Age.