Zandvlei Trust

SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM

Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday, 18th February 2014 at 09:30 at SanParks, Cape Research Centre.

Present.

Name Organization Represented Position
M Thompson CCT CSRM Chairman
Sharon Mc Callum ZVT Secretary
B Ratcliffe FOCVGB -
J Fillis F O Kirstenhof Wetlands -
C Haskins CCT CSRM -
G Lawson ZVT -
J Forsyth FOCVGB -
M Noffke WESSA -
G Topley CCT Health -
John Fowkes ZVT -
Tony Butcher Silverhurst -
Ann Coltham Constantia Land Steering Committee -
L Brunette CCT Cllr -
D Davey F of Die Oog -
B Mtandana DWA -
J Green WESSA -
Chandre Rhoda CCT Invasive Alien Unit  -
J Wheatley CCT Disaster Risk Management -

 

Apologies.

The following tendered their apologies: Sandra Fowkes, Louise Kinrade and  Erica Hobbs.

1. WELCOME / APOLOGIES (Attendance Register)
The Chairman welcomed all to the first meeting of 2014 (see list above) and handed out copies of the Agenda and previous Minutes.

2. APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MINUTES – CORRECTIONS / ACTIONS
The minutes from the previous meeting were scanned and save for the following minor changes, approved:
Sixth bullet on P2 – should read : “City by-law relating to invasive species is planned.”
Third bullet on P4 – last sentence should read : “fines for non-compliance….”
Action item on Page 5 – is on the agenda for the meeting and will be dealt with.

3. CHANGES TO AGENDA - slightly different order of presentation than set out in agenda, the report by Chandre Rhoda was to be given after Cllr Brunette arrived.
MT advised the meeting that the SRCF had originally been formed and run by Brian Nicholson, it fell away when he left and was reconstituted with this forum some years ago – he was pleased to announce that a SRCF Operational Working Group had been formed by those people on the forum who do the work on the ground, which Mandy will report on as per the agenda.

4. CONSTANTIA PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT UPDATE – Ann Coltham.

Ann Coltham, Chair of the Constantia Land Steering Committee, presented an update regarding the field on the corner of Firgrove Way and Spaanschematriver Road. Ann described three key restitution projects underway in Constantia: (1) the Ladies Mile Garden Refuse site which is a direct transaction between a group of families and the City; (2) the Land Court decision for the Sadien family at SARDA, and (3) the group claim for the field opposite Uitsig Wine Estate.

In 2009 the Provincial Government allocated the field for restitution purposes for Constantia land claimants. When the local residents became aware of this, a few representatives started working with the Trustees of the Constantia Claimants, supporting them in their right to restitution.

In order to understand the current situation regarding the field, it is necessary to understand the context:
A. The restitution process provides claimants with three routes:
(1) They can settle individually through the Land Claims Court. This requires a great deal of individual effort and research, and they need to pay their legal representatives. Should they be successful, their individual needs can be met and their costs can be reimbursed by Government.
(2) They can settle individually through the Land Claims Commission. This requires less individual effort because the Commission provides administrative and research services, and negotiates on their behalf with land owners. Should claimants be successful through this route, most of their individual needs may be met, but there will be compromises and it takes a long time.
(3) They can settle as part of a group. By banding together with other claimant families, they can negotiate with the Land Claims Commission and land owners. This requires far less individual effort because of the leadership of a committee, but individual needs will also need to give way to a collective benefit.

B. Three factors which demonstrate the complexities of restitution in South Africa:
(1) In 2007, the launch of the Blythedale restitution project in KZN was announced. The development of this R10billion coastal resort was interrupted late last year (six years after the agreements had been concluded between claimant representatives, developers, government and other stakeholders). Proceedings were halted because some claimants came forward to advise that they had expected particular benefits which hadn’t materialised yet. Even though their representatives had signed the required documentation and had undertaken to convey the information to family members, there was still confusion. Thus the entire operation has been called to a halt.
(2) National Government is considering the ‘Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill’. This amendment calls for land claims to be re-opened and it means that claimants will have another chance to lodge their claim if they missed the deadline of Dec 1996. If the amendment is passed, the Government expects some 380 000 new land claims, with an estimated cost of R180billion to settle them. The amendment allows for land to be claimed based on ownership prior to 1913. Prof Ben Cousins (Chair of Land and Agrarian Studies at UWC) questions how far back this amendment will reach. Would it date back to the Griquas and Khoisan who roamed? Ann described current Constantia claimants who are concerned about the effect that this amendment will have on their claim because they understand the ownership that Khoisan had in the Constantia Valley area.
(3) As far as group claims are concerned, the Restitution for Land Rights Act calls for decision by majority. It is not necessary to have a unanimous agreement about how land should be used. This inevitably leads to some claimants feeling compromised.
Minister Robyn Carlisle is very keen to see the restitution process succeed, but he is also aware of the com-plexities and challenges. He does not want to give the approval for a project that runs the risk of interruption a few months or years down the line. His officials are meeting with developers, the Land Claims commission and legal teams to determine the feasibility of a development plan that is under consideration for the field. Current Constantia residents would be interested to know that this development plan meets three criteria:

  • It is likely to attract young families to invest in Constantia

  • It meets local residents’ expectations for a residential component and it meets the City’s requirement that Constantia embrace densification at some level.

  • It also complies with the current zoning of the field (educational).

Ann suggested that a positive shift has taken place in the last couple of months with the Provincial Government stepping in to have regular discussions with parties involved with this restitution process. With this active role, the Government has taken responsibility for the process and it is no longer being driven by claimant Trustees and well-intended Constantia Volunteers. Ann undertook to provide updates to Martin’s office.

In reply to questions, Ann advised that (1) the previous Provincial Government’s plan for low income housing on the field had been shelved by the current Provincial Government in 2010, and (2) she was not aware of any claims in process for land within the Porter Estate.

5. WESTLAKE POLLSMOOR UPDATE – Gideon Topley.

Gideon introduced his talk with the statement that there are 8000 inmates at Pollsmoor and 2 functional kitchens! Meetings had been held with Pollsmoor Prison, Public Works and others to identify the main areas of concern – which are food traps that overflow and cause blocking of manholes; and cleaning of pots and pans in an area where the run-off flows into the storm water system and not the sewer line. They are awaiting the results of samples that were taken.
The emergency plan that was recommended is that fat traps need to be cleaned daily – and the waste water be discharged into the sewer system via the floor drains , situated in the scullery area , 24 000 meals are prepared on a daily basis – a lot of cleaning to be done!
The awaiting trial inmates, when receiving food, for example bread, also contribute to the problem as plastic bags are thrown out of the windows into the storm water drains.
One consolation is that the kitchen at the maximum security prison (4000 inmates) is to be renovated.
Medium A – the juvenile prison – is open. Each facility will have its own kitchen and drainage system.
Department of Public Works has approved an upgrade on the sewer line and has allocated R8 million which will be implemented in about April – the whole sewer system will be redone and/or replaced where it is failing with expert input and assistance.
MT advised that the readings of e.coli are still high (in the millions) – Gideon said they do not find these figures acceptable.
The storm water system in the prison is discharging raw sewage which is in turn going into the Westlanke River – difficult to find the source. Currently just doing patch work.
Pots and pans are no longer allowed to be washed where they were – there will be a new scullery with a slope and proper grease traps which will flow into the sewer and shouldn’t reach the storm water system.
Backyard dwellers in Westlake Village aggravate the Westlake River pollution problem where polluted discharges from the Village find their way into the River.

6. WATER QUALITY IN CATCHMENT – Candice Haskins.

Candice briefly summarised the details of her report, and said that she will forward the full report by email which will be attached to the minutes with circulation. Dennis Davey asked for a map to be included, which Candice said she would do.
Mandy noted that if Langevlei (near Retreat Station) was improved, it would help things downstream. It was previously swamped with reeds and then dredged and vertical sides created – the banks need to be shaped.
John Green agreed that it would be a good water body to improve in view of where it is situated.
In general terms, E.coli is trending upwards and we need to be more conscious about where it is coming from – wash off from roads, birds, dogs, nutrients.
James Forsyth advised that the water level at the top retention dam at Klaasenbosch has increased. Talcott had launched a boat and freed the outflow but clearing needs to be done above and below the dam. The question is how to open the gate when it is under water.
Action : Martin to talk to Talcott to follow up.
Candice was asked to circulate the telephone numbers of the Technical Operators – which are as follows :

WATER & SANITATION (Emergencies such as leaks, burst pipes, sewer defects/blockages and complaints e.g. low water pressure and water wastage)

Telephone (Account & consumption) queries: 

0860 103 089

SMS:

31373

Fax:

021 957 4726

E-mail:

watertoc@capetown.gov.za

ROADS AND STORMWATER (Potholes, flooding, fallen trees, open manholes, chemical or other spills)

Telephone:

0860 103 089

Postal address:

PO Box X1694, Cape Town, 8000

E-mail:

watertoc@capetown.gov.za

 SOLID WASTE (Illegal dumping, wheelie bins, cleansing, extra cleaning)

Postal address:

PO Box 298, Cape Town, 8000

Telephone:

0860 103 089

Fax:

0860 103 090/021 400 4302

E-mail:

wastewise@capetown.gov.za

LAND INVASION (Squatter control) 

Telephone:

0800 225 669

EMERGENCY (When life or property is endangered by fire, accidents and natural disasters etc) 

Telephone:

107

Telephone from mobile:

021 480 7700

Telephone from mobile:

112 (toll free)

Website:

http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/emergencyservices/

 GENERAL & ACCOUNT ENQUIRIES (Service delivery queries, complaints and accounts)

Telephone:

0860 103 089

Telephone: (overseas callers)

+27 21 401 4701

Fax:

0860 103 090

E-mail: (General enquiries)

Contact.Us@capetown.gov.za

E-mail: (Account enquiries)

accounts@capetown.gov.za

7.  AQUATIC WEED CONTROL IN SAND RIVER CATCHMENT – Chandre Rhoda.

Chandre introduced her presentation with the announcement that their unit has a new name – Green Jobs Unit. Sand river catchment forms part of 20 major natural catchments that occur in the City. The areas high- lighted where they have worked for the past 2 years include the following rivers: . Westlake, Prinskasteel, Prinsesskasteel, Paggasvlei, Spaanchemat and Keysers Rivers.
There are 13 aquatic weed target species and all of them are occur in the SR catchment. The photos showed the 5 worst aquatic weed species which include red water fern, parrots feather, water lettuce, kariba weed and the worst weed in the world, water hyacinth. She also showed pictures of some of the emergent species and lesser known species which include pontederia, ludwigia, watercress, wandering jew and persicaria
A typical situation found in the rivers in the catchment would be a mixture of invasive aquatic weeds. Whatever approach is used to control weeds, they always have to consider the endangered Western Leopard toad. Their approach always uses integrated control methods and for this catchment they make use of a combination of manual and biological control methods.
A big problem is the yellow water lily which is native to Mexico, Florida and southern Texas. This plant is of real concern as it has thick rhizomes and long, creeping stolons beneath the surface of the mud. Stolons can produce new plants. Each new plant in turn sends out stolons. Young plants can detach when small and grow elsewhere. It is being cleared manually while other control methods are being investigated.
By using manual clearing, they make use of people clearing the weeds with their hands. All their teams undergo training such as First aid, Health and safety, water safety training and herbicide application training. They are also informed of the different species that they need to remove and the different control methods.
Sometimes host specific natural enemies (insects, pathogens) are used to control invasive weeds but it is not a quick fix - it is long-term (5 – 10 years), but sustainable, cost effective, environmentally friendly and works best when combined with other methods. They monitor, evaluate and adapt as needs be.
In the Sand River Catchment, 4 very successful biological agents are used: Neohydronomous affinis is a leaf feeding weevil. The adults create small holes and the larvae tunnel through the leaf tissue. Plants become waterlogged and sink; Lysathia is a leaf chewing beetle. Larvae causes most of the feeding damage and adults feed off the tips of the leaflets of emergent shoots. Feeding damage causes the shoots to become thinner, shorter with die back of growing tips; Cytrobagous salviniae is a growth tip feeder and rhizome boring weevil. Adults feed on the leaf buds and young terminal leaves while larvae tunnel in the rhizomes and also feed externally. As a result of the feeding damage the leaves darken and plants become waterlogged and sink; Stenopelmus rafinasus - one of the most successful bio control agents in the country. Adults and larvae feed on the leaves which causes extensive damage and as a result the plants start to sink. Adult weevils measure up to 1.7mm. These weevils self disperse and can travel far distances to the next Azolla infestation. 
During Western Leopard toad breeding season, biological control agents are relied on completely to reduce infestations. The unit has a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Western Leopard toad committee in terms of which they are not allowed to control invasive plants in the breeding sites from 1 July to 31 December - excluding biological control agents.
Chandre showed a slide of the Mocke River before lysathia beetles were released in October. 715 beetles where released and the next slide showed the reduced infestation
When invasive plants are removed, the teams also remove rubbish and rubble from the rivers. She showed the different types of rubbish that is removed from the water systems – everything imaginable.
They work in collaboration with Heidi from Working for Wetlands, City Parks and Stormwater and have identified 2 areas for revegetation – one being the Westlake River in the Kirstenhof are and the other the Keysers River, concentrating in the area below the M3 in Dreyersdal farm.

Some comments after her presentation included :
John Fowkes re yellow water lily – first seen three years go and is now a solid mass. It is ground rooted and a major problem.
Jean Fillis asked why the team started at the top of the stream and then they have to get into deep water. Chandre responded that they start at the source.
Dennis Davey commented that the most efficient weed control at Die Oog had been when the weed-harvester was used. It said it was more efficient than people!
Cllr Brunette asked if nurseries are still selling the category 1 plants as they shouldn’t be. Chandre said that they are working with nurseries, but if people find that category 1 are being sold, to please advise her team.
When asked if there is an opportunity to address targeted weeds on private land, Chandre said not if they were not on the list. But they do go to schools and give talks and try and inform as many as possible.

8. AUTHORISATIOON PROCESS FOR MAINTENANCE OF SURFACE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE – Candice Haskins.

Candice advised that application had been made by the City (as a whole and on behalf of all departments) for authorisation to undertake maintenance of infrastructure of surface water which includes maintenance activities alongside rivers, most of which work triggers activities listed by NEMA. The application has been circulated for comment by 3rd March. She advised that the documents can be viewed at many libraries as well as electronically.
Dennis Davey asked what happens if there are very heavy rains and something that may need approval needs to be done. Is there a contingency plan? Such as happened recently in the UK with the heavy rains. John Green suggested that if it was a huge event, a state of emergency would be declared so that appropriate measures could be taken. Candice said that the 2013 November storm has caused certain areas to be declared “disaster areas”.

9. SAND RIVER CATCHMENT OPERATION WORKING GROUP UPDATE – Mandy Noffke.

Mandy said that 4 members of the operational working group (SRCOWG – name still to be finalised) were present at the meeting. The group meets regularly and is made up of those doing work on the ground – various City departments, including ISU (now Green Jobs), City Parks, ERM, Roads & Stormwater, Ward Councillors, civil society, SANParks and Working for Wetlands. They have had four meetings thus far (with the last being on 28th January). So far the group has enjoyed a good sense of a positive buy in. It has been a good platform to foster partnership building and discuss issues.
Reflecting forward and backward –“how are we doing and how can we plan better; what is the focus at the moment; how do we get to goals and how do we plan around each member’s mandate and their issues?”
A big issue has been communication around how members talk to each other. A public interface is in the process of being set up – two websites (through Gavin and Louise) through which information is made public. There are also friends group newsletters – hard and soft copies.
Operational communication is still being workshopped to find how this will work best. The ideal is that if there is work being done the catchment City Parks should know where this is happening and by whom. Should there be an issue such as an accident, a security issue or an enquiry at least there is a central point where someone will know what is happening where.
A lot of communication happens within the City departments – information sharing – and it is important that we add civil society into this sharing. A formal reporting process and a new format for reporting is being developed to enable more holistic reporting.
The drawing up of Green Belt Management Plans falling within Ward 62 has been driven by Cllr Brunette and the Ops Group are looking at getting involved.
Specific projects that the Ops Group are presently discussing include : Die Hel (management plan being processed), Soetvlei (trying to assist SANParks); Dreyersdal; Biomass removal (format for generating clearing still be finalised); Knysna warbler (keeping an eye on).
Mandy finished by saying that it was good to have started this group; the meetings are open; communication is starting; they are solving problems as they go along. Hopefully things will improve and they will be able to monitor their success.

10. GENERAL
Dennis Davey advised that Friends of Die Oog had a new Chairman and Vice-Chair. DD is still the Treasurer and will continue.
The meeting closed at 12h45.

11. NEXT MEETING
The next meeting will be held on 17th June 2014 at 09:30 at the Cape Research Centre.
Please note the starting time of 09h30.


                                                                                                                                                

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