Minutes of the quarterly committee meeting held at the Zandvlei Nature Conservation Office at 14h00 on the 01 December 2011.
C Sheasby (Chairman)
T Fakier (Secretary - student)
Cllr. D D’Alton
1.Opening and welcome
Cassandra Sheasby opened the meeting and welcomed all present. An attendance register was sent around and apologies received were read out.
2. Pondweed cutting or Weed harvester
CS: Cutting programme has been implemented. Residents seem happy with the work done to date. The second harvester is being sent back to Princess Vlei as they require cutting. DD: Is the Zandvlei machine going to be able to cope with the work once the other machine leaves? CS: Will need to be monitored to see how it goes but it should be able to keep up with the growth. DD: Requested that he is made aware of any problems with the Zandvlei machine. TJ: Enquired as to whether there is a security guard at Princess Vlei for the machine to prevent vandalism as previously. CS: Parks more than likely will not take the chance of that reoccurring, will double check and report back to the committee.BC: Is there a possibility of borrowing a third machine (private machine) for Zandvlei? CS: Not through the City system, however if the MDGA wanted to try it at Zandvlei, this could be authorized. The smaller machine at Century City would work better at Princess Vlei than at Zandvlei, as the machine is too small for Zandvlei’s canals. BC: John Ridley is looking for funding by organisations in the UK. Was decided that if a site meeting is held to see the Century City machine operate, that reps from Heathfield Parks, Nature Conservation and Marina Da Gama Association be present. BC: Concern that no sightings of new weed coming through – could this mean a potential population crash possibly due to fresh water dominance?MT: Novembers salinity was between 15 and 20ppt which is a good range so this more than likely wasn’t a causal factor. BC: Asked that it be noted that the operators have been great and that the clearing has been very well done.
3. Management Plan Process Phase 2
CS: The process has been sorted out, the MOU is in place and the payment has been received by CapeNature so awaiting the feedback on starting from CapeNature. The ZAC meetings will then more than likely change into the Zandvlei Estuary Forum meetings which will encompass representatives of higher government as well. BC: enquired as to why certain things in the plan (cutting of pondweed in the blind ending canals once per season) had not been changed. CS: The current management plan is a framework plan that subsidiary plans will fall into. Pondweed will have it’s own subsidiary management plan that will then be updated and changed as things are taken into account with lessons learnt etc. The blind ending canals would also then have to be looked at regarding the chemicals and siltation problems and the need to flush them. Discussion on the original pump that was meant to run salt water through the canals, there was only one pump and this has not been operational for many many years. This is something that would have to be looked at long term to get the blind ending canals into better condition. CS: reported that a 10 man team should be joining Zandvlei staff soon - this is part of the Kader Asmal river maintenance project which should run for 3 years. These staff will be employed as contractors who will be used for all things that have impacts on the catchment including waste removal (litter clean-ups), alien water plant removal, digging out of channels etc.
4. Mouth Management
MT: Opening and closing of the mouth has been recorded by Candice Haskins as part of the authorisation that was sent through for approval by DEAD&P – There have already been two openings that were outside of the predicted date due to the strange weather. Predictions of opening and closing dates have been drawn up for 2012 based on the Naval base’s calendar of high spring tides. The mouth has been kept open for the maximum allowable period this year during the fish migration months (Sept – December) which was highlighted in the management plan. CS: There were some complaints from some canal residents that the water levels were too low for the machines to work in which was keeping their water in a bad state, however a fair amount of understanding needs to accompany this as it is a necessity for the mouth to be kept open during these periods for the vlei to function.
5. Water Levels
The water levels have fluctuated quite a lot with the opening and closing of the mouth. The reader at Thesens bridge is going to be repaired early 2012, currently the readings are being taken manually. Only a few occasions when the water went over 1.3m: 5th Aug, 18 Oct and 14th Nov.
6. Water Quality
MT: reported that October and November readings were fairly good wrt water quality. MG: Has been looking at the signage next to the Royal Road parking area – many children are swimming in the vlei mouth and the signage needs to be improved in this area. CS reminded MG that there is still a sign next to the bowling green. CS: Previous week there was a sewerage spill in the Sand River canal. The spill had been sorted out by Mr Terry Houghton quite quickly. The residents in the area are very good at informing the City staff of any spills that they notice. BC: Suggested that a section be placed in the MDGA newsletter to ask residents to continue reporting sewerage spills.
7. Litter traps and Litter cleanups
MG: A resident has informed him of a large amount of litter that is coming into the vlei down a stormwater drain at Sonnet Quay. Coming off Prince George Drive possibly, need to check if there are catch fences along the drains of the road side, check if these can be replaced, will curb the problem somewhat. CS: Litter situation could get progressively worse due to urban sprawl, however the
10 man team at Zandvlei will be used to their max capacity to curb the litter problem. Yet again dealing with the symptoms of the problem but better than nothing at all.
8. Park Island
CS: Proposal was placed by Pam and Allen Hepple for a new boardwalk to the bird hide. This was approved and R75 000 was secured from external funding. Bevan Lil has now put in the boardwalk. Polywood uprights have been used instead of Copper Chrome Arsenic treated poles. Water on Park Island was shut off due to vandalism of the old irrigation system. The irrigation system will be removed and the water connections to the toilets etc will be restored. Garden refuse has been burnt on the island and residents are requested to not dump their garden refuse here anymore.
CS: Mallards are not being addressed unti the National Strategy is put in place.
TF: Fish trek undertaken in November showed large numbers of medium size White Steenbras (Endangered) as well as White Stumpnose, Cape Stumpnose, Flatnose mullet, Southern mullet, Pipefish, Gobies, Leervis, Cape sole and a large amount of fry and juvenile fish and no alien fish were caught as they have moved up the channels to breed. CS reported that the fact that the Steenbras are back is a really good sign. Taariq Fakiers was nominated for best research for his project on the last 5 years of fish trek data analysis at Zandvlei. It will be put up on the Zandvlei Trust website and on the Biodiversity Database in the new year.
11. Invasive Waterweeds
CS: There have been complaints by some residents of choked water ways along the rivers leading into Zandvlei. There is a yellow flowered lily from Mexico reported by JF in the Westlake and Keysers River section identified as Nymphaea Mexicana – has been seen at the Keysers, Westlake and even the Wynberg pond. There is currently no herbicide registration for this plant, mechanical removal is currently the only viable option. The plants are rooted plants and they propagate vegetatively like Hyacinth so any piece that breaks off can start a new plant, this will make removal very difficult. CS reported from Duncan Barson and John Fowkes that the hyacinth at Rutter road has been controlled by the biological control. There is still some hyacinth at the sand river canal. Waterweeds are being dealt with by Chandre Rhoda of the IAS section.
CS: Jean Phyllis reported mowing in Oranje Road, the contractors were pulled off site immediately and will only start again in October. Tree pruning has also been stopped. CS reported that the plants along the middle island of Prince George Drive had been mowed even after requested that they aren’t. Mowing for the Kite Festival happening on time, however next year this needs to be done by contractor. TJ: reported that certain areas of the Marina open spaces are not mowed when they are meant to be, she has been watching them and informing Eugene Rayners of places that they miss etc.
CS: Zandvlei may be getting their signage budget back for the information signage, the date is unknown if and when this will happen. The signage that was stolen at Promenade road was retrieved from the resident. It has not been put up again as the residents feel that it will bring down their property values. No further action will be taken on this matter until all parties can agree.
a. Boardsail Inn
CS: There was a request to build a scout base on this area, Biodiversity Management are not in support of any buildings being placed on this erf in accordance with NEMA regulation.
b. Law enforcement
CS: Law enforcement will continue, Zandvlei will have dedicated team of rangers who will patrol the problem areas and ensure visible policing.
The environmental law enforcement emergency number after hours: 083 499
c. Kite Festival
CS: Kite Festival took place, there was no water on site which was due to the Water Dept turning off the water after a pipe under the ground burst. The mowing was undertaken in partnership between the Caravan Park and Zandvlei staff, was only just completed in time - took 3.5 days. Next year will try to contract it out.
15.Closure and date of next meeting
TBA in consultation with the Estuary Management Plan Phase 2 - Estuary Management Forum consultant.