oa Civil Engineer in South Africa - The Pongolo Floodplain : a unique ecosystem threatened
Conditions for the formation of extensive floodplains are extremely limited in South Africa, for they require that a river should regularly break the confines of its normal channel to flood a substantial adjacent area which includes a number of suitable depressions to retain water over the dry season. These requirements are usually only met where a river carrying significant run-off attains grade on a flat plain. The coastal plain of northern Zululand is the only such area in the high rainfall zone of the Republic and, because of its unusual south-north course, the Pongolo River has formed a floodplain of some 10 000 ha along the eastern foot of the Lebombo Mountains. This floodplain comprises a low-lying area, incorporating a series of shallow pans, separated from the main river channel by low levees.
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