SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM
Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday,
26 February 2013 at 09:30 at
SanParks, Cape Research Centre.
Invasive Alien Unit - City
Water Pollution Control - City
Constantia Land Steering Committee
F of Kirstenhof Wetlands
F of Die Oog
CoCT ERM Biodiversity
Environmental Health - City
F of Constantia Valley Green Belt
Louise Kinrade, Erica Hobbs (both from Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands), Malcolm Pearce (Friends of Die Oog); James Rawlings, Derril Daniels (Water Affairs – City); Brian Ratcliffe
1. WELCOME / APOLOGIES (Attendance Register)
The Chairman welcomed all to the meeting (see list above) and handed out copies of the Agenda and Previous Minutes.
2. APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MINUTES
The minutes from the previous meeting were scanned and approved.
3. ACTION ITEMS
Item 8 – Item 8 – Martin Thompson did ask his GIS expert to send through the new boundaries of the wards.
4. ITEMS UNDER GENERAL
5. INVASIVE ALIEN MANAGEMENT – Louise Stafford,
Louise started by advising that their partners are increasing and are very active. The latest to join them are the Centre for Excellence in Invasion Biology (CIB) assisting with research and Rhodes University – assisting in setting up a bio-control at Westlake and monitoring weeds. She feels like they are getting somewhere – but finds she still has questions – “are we making a difference?” – “are we asking the right questions?” Looking at some of the successful projects : -
5.1. Kader Asmal project – started in January 2012 and now there are 60 teams across the city employing approximately 670 people, 65% of which are youth. There has been exponential growth in people days.
5.2. Black River – having recognised what was happening previously, the strategy has been substantially changed. They are using John Fowkes’ floating booms, which are easy to make, cheap and not worth stealing, and are having great success. They have taken away 12 tons of litter and used 40 people to clear the way for the Peninsula Paddle last year. It was cleared using just people and no machines. Almost a year on and the condition is still in an improved state.
5.3. Diep River – in May 2012 it was completely carpeted. This was cleared by hand removing tons of Water Hyacinth and others. It is now clear. There are 10 river wardens (ladies) working continuously to keep it clear. It is being managed from the N7 bridge – beyond that does not belong to City.
5.4. Biological control – using natural enemies, a bio-control weevils rearing facility was started in 2010. The facility is being altered to make it wheelchair friendly so that disabled people can be employed. Weevils have been released in the Mocke River. Bio-control will also be used in the Diep River – two ladies will be taught who will then teach the rest of the team. No success stories yet – this project needs more time to establish if bio-control works. So far, released more than 20 000 weevils since November.
5.5. Sand River Catchment:
data management with a number of role players - where to put resources;
meeting expectations of residents, politicians and others – cannot address all the problems that arise – need to have a plan;
mandates- who is doing what and why;
emerging species – e.g. yellow water lily going to be a big problem – co-ordination of resources is important for this – to ensure we have functioning ecosystems to support biodiversity.
Water quality – aquatic weeds result in poor water quality;
Sustainability – we need to think ahead – should not do anything unless we know what we want to achieve.
Sand River working group headed by Mandy – trying to address the challenges towards the bigger picture;
Active community, political and stakeholder involvement;
Partnerships – with communities, friends groups, academic and research institutions and government;
Integrated bio-control – must be upscaled;
Consolidation – plans – actions.
Louise reminded the Forum of the Spotter
Network – report target species for early detection programme online. The website is being made more user friendly.
6. SOURCE TO SEA – Mandy Noffke.
Mandy handed out a summary of the meeting of the first operational working group held in January – which brought together all the managers working on the ground, civil society, Wessa – to establish what resources were available, what was happening on the ground and to look at challenges. A copy of this summary will be attached to these minutes.
Mandy advised that she was waiting for certain information from Talcott Persent who was not at the workshop.
Action: Martin Thompson to remind Talcott.
Jean Fillis asked about the condition of the Sand River under Military Road which is full of litter and junk and whether there was anyone employed to check and clear. She was advised that this is Talcott’s department. There is no funding for this to be done more frequently. Martin Thompson suggested speaking to the Councillor to push to get more funding.
7. FRIENDS GROUPS REPORTS:
7.1. Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts / Friends of Tokai Park –
A quick resume of the previous three months : -
Pollsmoor Prison – The alien vegetation and the water pollution in the Pollsmoor Prison has long been a concern. In partnership with the ISU the
alien vegetation behind the workshops and in the riverbed leading to the irrigation dam was removed and chipped. The chipper was funded with part
of a Ward 62 Grant in Aid. On removal of the alien vegetation a large amount of dumping in the river near the irrigation dam was revealed and the
prison authorities were tasked with its removal. In addition a large clump of Port Jackson in the NE corner of the agricultural land was also cleared but
the slash was stacked as the funds had run out for chipping. The Prison agreed to remove the slash for fire wood.
On revisiting the site last week to inspect progress with Adam de Vos it was found that the prison has been divided into security sections and we were
unable to view the section behind the workshop but de Vos said there was a bit of regrowth. We were unable to view the riverbed because Bulrushes
have filled the riverbed (a sure indicator of high nutrients) and new fence stopped closer inspection. The water running over the causeway had
become a smelly brown stream that was running quite vigorously. Mr de Vos advised that the City was to clear the river above the causeway and the
Prison would clear below. The slash had not been removed from the agricultural land after 4 months.
The FOCVG find that it is extremely difficult to work with the Prison
authorities as individuals don’t have authority over all areas or the authority
to commit resources to projects. As the FOCVG are a Civil Society organisation they do not have the authority or the funds to get involved with
an unresponsive State body so they must withdrew from the project.
Klaasenbosch River – Two grants of R50 000.00 from Roland & Leta Hill
Trust have enabled the substantial rehabilitation of this precious Afromontane remnant. A further R20 000.00 of FOCVG funding has further
enhanced this trail. The Poplar must be cleared on a continuous basis but it grows back very quickly. We have had an attack by “bark strippers” and
the trunks of the surviving Boekenhoudt’s have been painted with a light green PVA on the advice of Jan Botes of City Parks. City Parks no longer
do any maintenance on this trail save for logging trees that have fallen over paths.
Alphen Trail – two years ago City Parks removed the dense Port Jackson stands from the top of the trail. As there was no follow up FOCVG have
once again cleared the top of the trail and the trail on the northern bank.
A cleaner has been appointed to pick up litter and dog poo and it has been a great success. He works 3 days a week. Other river wardens are also
taking him on for small alien clearing work. Louise Stafford offered to employ him – James must send through details. FOCVG can manage and
she will pay. Wolwekloof – poplars removed from wetlands and farm. City Parks have
undertaken to remove the slash.
Spaanschemat Trail – the path has been re-opened through the reeds. The
best solution was to dig the rhizomes out. Cleared a 1.5 m wide path 150 m long but ongoing maintenances is an issue. After years of neglect the
trail now once again links to the old Stark Ayres nursery site and the Willow Road dam.
An on-site meeting was held with City Parks – Jolyon Schmidt and Wayne Steyn. Jolyon Schmidt went on at length about who was responsible for
what on the greenbelts and made it very clear that City Parks did not have the capacity and would continue to reduce numbers and outsource more
and more of their work. Schmidt also claimed that river and river banks were not City Parks concern but that of Martin Thompson and Talcott Percent.
Calls into City Parks were put on to a ‘‘C3” form and the FOCVG have been given a spreadsheet to submit their calls – not very satisfactory.
Die Hel – access off Southern Cross dive cleaned up once a year and each
year less needs to be done.
General Before the winter rains we need to address pampas grass and aquatic weeds at the Diep, Spaanschemat and Klaasenbosch rivers; and
poplars on Alphen Trail – will work in coordination with ISU.
Tokai Park – SANParks are addressing alien plants but not removing the slash.
7.2. Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands – Jean Fillis.
Jean began with some history : The Kirstenhof greenbelt is located around the Westlake River between the M3 highway and the Main Road,
downstream from Pollsmoor Prison. Our Friends group was started in 2009 by 2 committee members of KERA. We had a few meetings to see what
most concerned the residents. Initially we meant it only as a means of liaising with Council departments which was productive as Talcott agreed to
remove the large stand of tall Port Jackson trees from the centre section which had dried up after the river was opened up some years before.
WESSA encouraged us to apply for funding from a Trust which resulted in a R15,000 donation for 2 years running, at which point Erica opened a bank
account and became Treasurer. Once the money arrived we hired Mark Noffke to finish the invasive removal and also to poison the stumps. Since
then we have planted an avenue of 20 Milkwoods Julia Wood gave us plus another 7 from James Forsyth and 11 other trees and 4 gardens from plants
kindly donated by the Noffke’s – In 2011 we planted another 7 trees, though 3 were ring-barked and died - Karen Watkins also donated a tree and a
We received a donation of many Agapanthus and about 100 potted Watsonia bulbs last April from a resident which flowered in October. The
shrubs are unfortunately maturing and need plenty of pruning so our contractor has since cut the Psoralea aphylla behind the gardens down as
they were leaning from the wind and he also removed some invaders that had emerged since the last removal. We did far fewer Volunteer Hours last
year due to rain and are cutting back this summer due to heat as well, sadly we only have one person from Tokai who comes regularly besides the 3
Committee members. We have a member from Canada who donated shadecloth and replaced some around a tree after it had been vandalised.
Another member gave us R1000 which we have mainly used to hire an occasional gardener. Another member, a CCT employee, donated her
gardener for an hour for about 4 months last year. Some members concentrate on removing the Devil Thorn weed, Prof. Moll
among them, and report it is slowly disappearing from badly infested areas.
Council started spraying last year but it was during the toad and bird breeding season so many residents objected and it was stopped. They
mowed instead, which did prevent seed germinating and we hope there will be less weeds this Spring.
In April last year the Kader Asmal team worked through the river, clearing the river of mainly Persicaria and spraying the large area of Cannas in the
centre of the wetland, which have unfortunately re-grown. I think the team may have returned as I saw a group wearing the yellow T shirts in the river
last week. Two trees damaged by fire last year were also cleared last week by Parks dept.
Our bridges are also in poor condition but we are hoping that the Ward Allocation will help towards repair or replacement.
Prof. Eugene Moll instigated a walk around the greenbelt last August with ourselves, Penny East, our Councillor, a committee member of Crime
Watch and Eugene Rayners from Parks dept. We got clarification on Council’s mowing procedure and discussed the latest toad protection
protocol. We requested more frequent mowing of the playpark area and we also asked that the low-growing trees, mostly Buddleja species, be pruned
more regularly to ensure safety and clear visibility for walkers. Parks dept. started with the tree pruning the next day and have returned several times.
Erica also reports that a tender process is about to start for the next round of tree pruning. The trees with tall trunks like the Waterberry are fine but
people have an issue with the shrub- like trees under which people can hide.
Parrots Feather in our largest pond was eaten by Lysanthia weevils introduced by ISU but the resulting decayed stems plus an over-abundance
of submerged weed and very hot weather caused a lack of oxygen at the end of December, with fish beginning to die. We knew we were not
supposed to remove it so tried to contact ISU who were on leave. Louise emailed and phoned many departments with no result - even the Mayor’s
office (whose secretary was sympathetic but could not help) Talcott then phoned her after midnight on the 28th but he was also on leave so we are
not sure if he could help at that stage.
Penny East had meanwhile arranged a meeting at the pond the next day with Robert Hector, various Roads department men including a Mr Nel and
Josh from Zandvlei Nature Reserve. The men immediately started pulling the foliage out and permission was given for the long-arm digger to come out on
the roads on the Saturday morning and the pond surface was cleared. Since then the Parrots feather is re-growing but the pond otherwise looks much
Louise suggests the various departments could maybe come up with a combined plan of action as this is a regular problem – maybe the Lysanthia
weevils are not such a good idea. It was suggested on site that maybe a sweep of the surface could be undertaken in June before the toads start
mating, though Josh suggested a more regular clearing. Clearing is however not allowed between July and December and the toads do seem to need
some foliage to lay their eggs on and protect the tadpoles from predators. Mr Hector walked the whole area with Louise and said the Typha needed to
be cleared, which Talcott’s teams are now doing.
This month Talcott had the other pond cleared with the digger, plus a gabion wall protecting the river bank that was beginning to fall over has been
repaired. A gabion base has been built across the river connecting to the gabion retaining wall, which will protect a sewer pipe that has already been
broken in the past. A storm water pipe has also been surrounded by gabions. Prof. Moll is hoping the wall can be raised someday as it is a start
towards his dream of a wetland in the upper section The 20 Milkwoods that Julia Wood gave us some years ago are all growing
well, save for one that was ring-barked and died. The 6 from James Forsyth that were damaged by children all survived by sprouting again. In previous
years we connected 5 hoses together and used a resident’s borehole to water them but all I have done this year is to give them water from 5 L
bottles, which means 6 car trips from home and of course it rained 3 days after I last did it. The other trees are fortunately close to the river so it is a
bit easier to water, though one Assegaai did die this month. Our Red Pear is still alive and looking good
Kirstenhof Residents Assoc. offered to pay our subscription to rejoin WESSA for the year as we need to keep our remaining Trust money
exclusively for removal of invaders and planting.
Louise and myself are on the committee so we are able to bring problems to our Councillor’s attention. At her request, razor wire was reinstalled along
the M3 boundary wall, however a section has already been broken or vandalized and is waiting for
7.3. Zandvlei Trust – Gavin Lawson.
(a) Environmental Education - Sharon McCallum took a sabbatical for most of the year to be the Project Manager for the Tracks of Giants. She
was invited to give a talk to the Steenberg Primary School year-end Assembly by the Environmental Teacher, Glenda Samuels. A very
successful presentation was given by Ian McCallum, as the fundraiser, at the Masque Theatre in January 2013. This raised money for Environmental
Education, and will go towards transporting children to the ZVNR.
(b) ZVT is still awaiting a response on the funding application to the Lotteries Board for an Environmental Education programme.
(c ) Westlake Wetlands - headed by John Fowkes who reports that the southern part has been kept virtually invasive weed free. A boom is
in place south of the junction of the Westlake and Keyser’s Rivers. North of the boom there is serious infestation primarily by water lettuce, parrot’s
feather and Mexican Water Lily. Peninsula Beverage funds the work by a skilled and trained man for 6 days
a month. There is no current biocontrol agent for the Mexican Water Lily and it is spreading dramatically. Biocontrol for Water Lettuce and Parrot’s
Feather works well and are introduced by the City Alien Invasive Species Unit.
(d) The final phase of the BOSSIES programme under Neil Major- planting of local indigenous plants in the center island of Prince George
Drive and at the bottom of Old Boyes Drive has been completed. So far the planted nodes have survived.
(e) The Main Road Lakeside Garden - has secured a major portion of funding from Pick n Pay, Lakeside to pay for the gardener’s wages for a
trial period of 6 months. A number of smaller shops in the Centre also contribute to the gardens upkeep. This project is headed up by Peter
Kruger, who also compiles and edits the ZVT Newsletter.
(f) The Botany Group - under Robin and Pat Burnett continue - they have identified another 75 plus, species growing in the Old Boyes Drive
section of the ZENR. This is in addition to the 400 plus species already collected, identified and documented on the lower flat areas around the
(g) The Hacking Group - continues with its work assisting the ZVNR staff. This year is the 25th year Gavin Lawson has been active
removing invasive species, and he has led the group for 22 years. A special mention is that Una Hartley participated for 24 very active years.
(h) ZVT members were active in establishing and participating in the Zandvlei Estuary Management Forum. This is part of the Cape Estuaries
Programme and Sandra Fowkes is the current Chairman, with John Fowkes representing the ZVT.
(i) ZVT contributed by documenting the Peninsula Paddle journey across part of our Catchment and into the adjoining one. This adventure can
be viewed on the ZVT website.
(j) Gavin Lawson has been monitoring and submitted comments on 4 local EIA’s.
(k) ZVT Exco decided not to participate at last year’s Kite Festival
as they felt it has become an over commercialized glorified flea market.
(l) Village Heights (Lavender Hill / Vrygrond) is a new community project. A ZVT member paid for transporting the children to the Zandvlei
Nature Reserve on 2 occasions in October and December. Members have assisted the community with applications for a telephone line, help with
registering for NPO status and will assist with future skills training, administration and bookkeeping functions. A web page has been started for
them, on the ZVT website. The City of Cape Town has adopted this community as a World Design Capital legacy project for 2014. There are
also a number of other Organizations helping this community to become independent and self-sufficient.
Sharon McCallum added the following:
(m) ZVT had been advised that their Grant in the Aid from the City (for which they had applied successfully in the last three years) will no
longer be forthcoming as it falls under the ambit of one of the City’s line departments.
(n) ZVT is considering partnering with the Muizenberg Improvement District and other organizations in a project to create an
eco-park in the area with a footpath extending right around the vlei.
Candice commented that the City’s Biodiversity Department would have to
agree to this! Sharon will liaise with Mandy to obtain a copy of the draft Source to Sea map to see where there may be overlaps.
7.4. Friends of Die Oog (FODO) – Prof Davey
Prof. Davey read Malcolm Pierce’s (the Chariman) report (slightly summarised) as follows:
As Die Oog is a prime breeding site for Western Leopard Toads, their activities in August are keenly observed and again in November when the
emergence of toadlets can be expected. Although there were not as many mating pairs last year, residents with pools rescued many toadlets in
November so it seems to have been a reasonably successful season.
FODO see their main role as assisting City to ensure that the area remains a desirable place to viist. This involves fund raising to pay the weekly
gardener and other expenses – but with declining membership this is not easy. The pictorial notelets remain a popular source of revenue but without
the generosity of the Roland & Leta Hill Trust, Die Oog would not look the way it does. Nor without the efforts of City Parks, Biodiversity and Nature
Conservation Departments with whom there is a happy working relationship.
Special mention of gratitude to Suretha Dorse, Grant Smith and Peter Fisher who are always at the end of a phone line.
An ongoing concern, aesthetically rather than structurally, is the stabilisation of the inside of the west wall of the dam, which is 250 years
old. Some piecemeal attempts to rectify it have proved unsightly and ineffective. A proper planned and engineers solution will of course be
expensive but must eventually be examined.
8. FIRGROVE/SPAANSCHEMAT DEVELOPMENT , LAND
RESTITUTION – Ann Coltham.
Ann Coltham of the Constantia Land Steering Committee, presented an update of restitution in Constantia.
The five key players in the restitution process were identified as (1) the
Claimants, (2) the Land Owners, (3) the Regional Land Claims Commission, whose role is to represent Claimants’ interests, (4) the National Department
of Rural Development and Land Reform (the masters of the Regional Commission), and (5) the residents who form the ‘community’ around the
land. If the claimants make no progress through the Land Claims Commission and if they have sufficient funds, they can approach the Land
Ann described the complexities of the process – that it is not just about
land, but about the ‘right’ to land and all that this right afforded the claimants. When they were forcefully removed from the land, they lost their
connection to the land and to each other, and any legacy that they might’ve been aspiring to. The Act seeks to provide a right to land or equitable
redress, but sadly the Land Claims Commission – with its inability to manage data, keep records or display administrative capacity – has sorely
failed the claimants. The deadline for applications was December 1996, and the claimants have been participating in good faith all this time, without
Specifically, the three restitution process are as follows:
Ladies Mile: There are 8 or 9 families linked to this site. One portion (belonging to Rashad Solomon’s family) is the size and shape of a
residential unit, but the others are all in the shape of strip farms. All the families need to agree on how the entire erf can be sub-divided and this
process of consultation is being facilitated by the Land Claims Commission.
On 5 February, the surveyor general’s office met with the Land Claims Commission to advise that the land was going to be sub-divided into
residential units, with three portions staying open for public open space. These three portions will provide for any future claims that the Government
might invite for that site.
Sillery: In 1902, Dout Sadien bought the land and after he died, his sons
purchased it in 1956 from his estate for the equivalent (at the time) of R22000. In 1963, they were forced to auction it under the Group Areas Act,
and it was purchased by Jacob Badenhorst for equivalent of R13500. The Sadien family approached the Land Claims Court and were awarded 10 ha of
land elsewhere in Constantia as compensation. The specific erven that make up this 10ha are under discussion.
Firgrove field: Discussions are underway between the Land Owner (Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works) and the Land Claims
Commission about the specifics of the restitution of this land. Province suggests that the land should be developed so that claimants can choose if
they’d like to live there or benefit from the proceeds of the development. This
would broaden the Claimants’ options of how they’d best derive benefit from the restitution process. The Land Claims Commission has not found its way
to supporting this proposal yet.
Ann said that the Land Steering Committee is in the process of presenting
updates to all civic groups and bodies in the Constantia Valley so that residents have opportunity to be informed and ask questions. She thanked
the Forum for their invitation and attention to this matter.
9. ZANDVLEI WATER QUALITY – Candice Haskins.
Candice handed out print copies of her presentation and let item 10
precede, as we were way over time.
All agreed to read the document. (See the report in the speakers reports
10. WESTLAKE RIVER POLLUTION – Melissa
Tang / Malcolm Cupido.
Malcolm Cupido gave an overview of how his dept has become involved at Pollsmoor. Historically the City had no authority or access to the property, as it is a national government entity, even though the prison is serviced by the municipal infrastructure water, sewerage, electricity, roads etc.
The Health Act was repealed in 2012 and now reverts to the 2003 amendment. This is the change that has allowed the City to take responsibility to address what is emanating from Pollsmoor. Legally the City Health dept is struggling with the authorities at Pollsmoor to establish who is responsible for the causes of the polluted waste coming from the kitchens and going into the Westlake River. There are many grey areas in the law governing both the national and local infrastructures. Malcolm is dealing with the Regional Commissioner of Prisons in the Western Cape. He has also come into contact with a Lynette Josephs (LJ) in the meetings who seems to be a reasonable person to deal with.
There are 3 kitchens (A, B and C) used for Pollsmoor Prison. Two are out of commission being refurbished currently. Only the medium B kitchen is in use now, feeding between 7000 – 9000 people 3 times a day. The numbers vary dramatically on a monthly basis due to the requirements of the law courts for awaiting trail prisoners, etc.
What has been established is that the kitchen grey water system is not working and is flowing directly into the Westlake River 24/7.
There was also a major sewer pipe breakage recently. To help rectify the situation the sewerage is being pumped into a holding tank and a truck is being filled and transporting the contents to a discharge cover in another sewer system 24/7. On assessing the breakage it was found that the pipelines all need to be replaced as they are made from an ageing and inferior material. The system process is the Prison has to work through the Public Works dept who then has to put out a tender for any repairs, consultation or inspections. Security is a big issue and has a number of requirements, which have to be met.
Malcolm has explained the consequences of what is happening down the watercourse. There is a distinct lack of knowledge, understanding and awareness of environmental issues emanating from the prison grounds. They are prepared to listen, understand and co-operate. It will take some time though. The prison is divided up into security zones and access to the zones is restricted and managed by different authorities.
Malcolm would like a list of contact names for the Westlake catchment. His dept staff can contact them quickly, in the event of a spillage, to warn their members and the surrounding public, before they can get signage and communication out for those who use the water bodies.
Malcolm asked for Westlake River to be kept on the agenda for the next meeting report back.
Melissa reported she took samples, which could not be tested in the labs. She took a second batch last week and had not received the results yet. She was at the point of instituting legal proceedings, as she was so worried about what she has seen on her visits. There are no locally available diagrams of the sewerage and stormwater systems for reasons of security.
So she is working with LJ to have access to the diagrams through the Prisons legal processes. It is taking time.
Melissa has given the Prison Authorities 14 days to respond to the meeting details from last week. The refurbished kitchens are due to be available in March 2013. She will inspect them before permissions are given to start using them.
Candice gave a quick overview of the work Dr Bret will be doing in the City during March 2013. This will be the first time such sampling and analysis will be done in the sediments for metals, nutrients, pesticides etc. The data will be available in about a year’s time. He will be collecting samples in the Zandvlei catchment.
The meeting closed at 13h00.
12. NEXT MEETING
The next meeting will be held on 18th June 2013 at 09:30 at the Cape Research