Zandvlei Trust

The Sand River Catchment Forum.

Minutes of the meeting held on:
Tuesday 24, July 2007 at 14h00 at the Alphen Centre

Present

M Thompson     CoCT LDS & Stormwater CSRM [Chairman]
J Forsyth          FOCUGB FOTF
C Sheasby       CoCT Nature Conservation
N Newman        CoCT – EMS
R De La Cruz    CoCT
P Veldsman      CoCT Roads & SN
M Noffke           Working for Wetlants/Solutions
J Botes             CoCT
C Haskins         CoCT –Scientific Services
V Marincowitz   Zandvlei Trust
G Lawson         Zandvlei Trust
C Giljam           Zandvlei Trust/Friends of Park Island [Minutes]

Apologies

D Davey            Friends of Die Oog
J Green             Friends of Tokai Forest
S McCallum      Zandvlei Trust

1.  WELCOME/APOLOGIES & ATTENDANCE REGISTER

MT welcomed all to the ‘revived’ Sand River Catchment Forum, the last meeting having been chaired by Bryan Nicolson in August 2005.

The ‘revival’ of the forum had come about as a result of a small group of Zandvlei Trust and Marina da Gama residents lobbying Mayor Helen Zille to emphasize the importance of communication between council and civil society to manage the catchment in a holistic way to enhance this precious natural resource and to hopefully avert an environmental disaster.

This meeting, facilitated by the Zandvlei Trust, was by selected invitation only to:

  • Update on the status quo of the Sand River Catchment

  • To ‘brainstorm’ the purpose and ‘future’ role of the Forum

2. REPORTS

2.1 Water quality [presented by Candice Haskins]

CH circulated her well researched report to all, drawing attention to the following;

  • Based on collected data by recognised numerous services, river health and water quality were calculated on ‘total phoshorus concentration’ and ‘e coli percentage compliance with DWAF Intermediate Contact Guidelines’ for a 12 month period ending 30 June 2007.

  •  5 sample points had been taken on rivers within the catchment to obtain the results indicated.

Topics discussed from the report included:

  • The relative value of Bio monitoring/aquatic invasion on an annual basis to add to data on ‘river health’.

  • The value and cost of measuring seasonable ‘events’ changes and effects on ‘river health’.

  • Comparison of the National Standard to the Sand River Catchment data.

  • Identifying ‘problem areas’ with ‘cause and effect’ ie algael blooms and nutrient peaks at Die Oog – can they be be proven to be as a direct result of over population of certain bird species inhabiting the location on a seasonal basis?

  • The tracking via historical data of positive or negative effects to water quality as after research and appropriate management decisions, taken as a direct result of that research ie The increased salinity and emulation of a natural estuarine system at Zandvlei due to calculated manipulation of the opening and closing of the estuary mouth to optimise the benefits of tidal interchange for greater salinity levels, general WQ and fish migration.

  • A request for monitoring and sampling of organisms found in sediment within the system.

  • The use of CCT Wetland mapping using a GIS system to identify and prioritise wetland areas within the catchment in relation to bio diversity and EIA’s submitted for development.

  • Acknowledgement of the value of ‘ears and eyes’ on the ground in all areas of the catchment for localised unusual events/reports and the importance of effective communication of the problem to council officials to enable them to quell potential environmental disaster with particular relevance to WQ.

  • A request to invite Marine and Coastal Management to contribute to the Forum and provide data on fish, sand prawns, tube worms and pondweed growth and harvesting to the Catchment data base/archive.

  • Further discussion on number and occurance of sites and samples taken, methods, supervision and verification of collected data on WQ.

  • Who will archive the data? 

  • Who will disseminate the collected data, assess and publish the ‘big picture trends’ on WQ for all to comment on.

2.2 Zandvlei Action Committee [presented by Cassandra Sheasby]

TP and RDLC have selected tender applications and issued new contracts for outsourcing essential functions from the beginning of August 2007. Immediate priority would be put on litter clean ups, especially around the prerifery of the vlei and the litter traps on the Sand River and Langevlei Canals.

CCT had installed new litter bins along Main Road.

The Zandvlei picnic area along Promenade Road was a high priority and the following measures were being implemented:

  • New signage prohibiting gas or portable braais outside of the designated ‘braai areas’ and the illegal parking of buses.

  • Regular patrolling and ‘clean ups’ daily Friday to Monday and on Public Holidays with back up from Law Enforcement.

  • The possible installation of a low fence along the waters edge to ‘catch wind blown litter’ from entering the vlei.

2.3 Western Cape Wetlands Forum [presented by Mandy Noffke]

MN will see that all SRCF members are included on the mailing list for minutes of all meetings and information on the endeavours of the latter.
Patrick Dowling had been charged with organising the celebrations for World Wetlands Day on the 5 September 2007.

For the last financial year WfW had had a budget of R2.3 million. 50% of that amount had been spent in the SRC specifically on the Prinskasteel River, where it traverses the Tokai Forest, where inftastructure is being installed to slow the river during flooding events and over time recreate a natural wetland. To this end x 5 gabion structures had been constructed before the onset of winter and were being severley ‘tested’ by the heavy rainfall experienced to date.

x 5 further gabions structures had been planned to complete the project but experts were to assess the structures built to date, in conjunction with the new designs, budget and management implications before construction could commence. EIA’s also needed to be completed.

2.4 Operating budget [Martin Thompson]

An allocation of only R30 million had been given for river cleaning for the entire COCT. A reality check = x1 river cleaned/cleared every 20years!! However, rivers are actually cleaned at least once or twice a year resulting in other services receiveing less funding and therefore less frequent cleaning. There is 1400kms of road to service in the area. Asset replacement value is approximatelyR5billion.

2.5 Capital Budget [Martin Thompson]

Provision of R6 million had been allocated for the construction of a new culvert under the Main Road in Diep River, and to widen the river down to Alnwick Road to alleviate flooding. A further R3million would be needed from the 2008 budget to complete the project. EIA’s were in progress and construction should take +-5 months and is anticipate to commence in January 2008.

2.6 Reports from ‘friends’ Groups

Friends of Tokai and Constantia presented by James Forsyth

As discussed by MN much attention was being focused on the lower Plantation in Tokai with much assistance from Council and WfW. The emphasis was on stalling the flow of excess water ‘run off’ from the Constantiaberg by creating a ‘seep’ which would eventually rehabilitate as a natural wetland. A lot of replanting and rehabiliation of the natural fynbos type was also taking place . The entire exercise had been a great example of officials, contractors and civil society working together.

Alien vegetation removal and clearing was underway below the Hohenort Hotel. Much of this was invasive Morning Glory.

Comment from the floor was made re seasonal river cleaning methods using the Grootbosch River where it crosses the Nova Constantia Road as an example. CH noted that while taking water samples for WQ at the end of summer the in – stream habitat at that point had been fantastic and supported great bio diversity. At the start of winter a scheduled ‘clean up’ to avert siltation had all but destroyed the latter. All present requested that there should be a synchronised approach to vegetation removal and river cleaning to assess each area on its merits and on its seasonal requirements ie breeding season of the leopard toads. There was also a request for a list of plant types recommended for promoting WQ and bio diversity in different habitats to act as a guideline for those involved in rehabilitation.

Goals and objectives of the Millenium Conference? were discussed relative to projects and priorities within the SRCF Plan. All felt the role of the Forum was to highlight the latter with a sustainable business plan aligning with national objectives of clean water, job creation and skilling, rehabilition and environmental education so that funds could be sourced from donors with similar objectives.

There was also reference made to the successful model of Enviro / Business partnerships pioneered within the SRC ie Keysers River

Friends of Die Oog presented by Natalie Newman

The latter had been funded by the Rowland and Leta Hill Trust to reshape and re plant the lower wetland as well as construct a viewing platform. WfW had given their assistance. There was still a problem with WQ which most believed was due to the seasonal over population of some bird species.

The Friends were still exploring the various options open to them to have the area proclaimed as a local COCT nature reserve and /or heritage site.

3. Sand River Catchment Management Plan

Since time was limited it was decided that the plan should be perused at leisure by all involved for discussion at the next/ or future meetings.

4. The Future of the Forum

This comment took the form of personal comment as there was no time for the topic to be debated at length which was a great pity. All felt that the agenda should be adhered to strictly in future with a timeline.

RdlC -Negatives  many of the issues discussed he felt were repetitive from the ZAC meetings, the Forum should be used to discuss concepts, policy making, bigger issues without the ‘on the ground ‘detail rrelevant to other areas within the SRC.
Positives - he believed the opportunity for constructive communication between all the environmental role players within the catchment on a quarterley basis would go a long way to promote co ordination of all policy decisions, services and resources.

MN - If the SRCF was to have any real influence there should be wider representation of people and organisations who are major role players in the area ie SANPARKS, Winelands Bio Diversity, Source to Sea, Keysers River Partnership, Coastal and Marine etc etc. She would be happy to suggest / send recommended list and contact details.

JB - While the focus would be primarily inward looking to managing the SRC he would like the Forum to be aware of all ‘environmental and greening’ policies adopted by the city ie MOSS. This would give contextto the SRC within the COCT and would even be relevant on a national scale especially when prioritising sites/projects and funding ie for sensitive wetland areas or estuaries.

NN - Would like to see updated graphic maps of the SRC illustrating not only the geographical features of the catchment but all existing and proposed projects plus the illustration of informative data collected to date within the catchment ie greenbelts, river buffer zones, wetlands, 100yr floodlines, proposed developments etc The latter would serve as a graphic illustration of the ‘present’ and ‘future’ projections. They could be used as management and educational tools.

MT- Essential to establish a ‘network’ between civil society [eyes and ears on the ground] and council officials to complement/promote local information and assist in reaction time of officials to deal with potential environmental ‘challenges’. This ‘network’ could also assist with the collection of local data and conditions along water courses and environmentally sensitive areas especially at significant seasonal events. SRCF needed to formalise the latter, perhaps with a ‘check list’, signage etc.

The issue of water abstraction within the SRC also needed to be addressed.

GL- The SRCF needed representation, at least on an annual basis, on the activities of government institutions ie Pollsmoor Prison and land administered by Province to assess their impact on the catchment and promote awareness of the greater goals of the SRCF.

The meeting closed at 17h30 without having reached conclusion on the last items on the agenda.

Next meeting scheduled for 30 October 2007, 13h30 at the Alphen Chambers, Constantia.

PS - CG would like to recommend that I&A council members be invited as many of the issues debated are dependent on council funding, besides which the latter could be informed allies promoting our priorities. They would also be able to assist the Forum in following due process where necessary and could advise us realistically when it was necessary to look to private sponsors for funding.

                                                                                                               

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