Zandvlei Trust

SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM

Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday, 29th July 2014 at 09:30 at SanParks, Cape Research Centre.

Present.

Name Organization Represented Position
Martin Thompson CCT CSRM Chairman
Sharon Mc Callum ZVT Secretary
Brian Ratcliffe FOCVGB -
Jean Fillis F O Kirstenhof Wetlands -
Candice Haskins CCT CSRM -
Gavin Lawson ZVT -
James Forsyth FOCVGB -
Mandy Noffke WESSA -
Gideon Topley CCT Health -
John Fowkes ZVT -
Dennis Davey F of Die Oog -
Thandi Mmachaka DWA -
L Brunette CCT Cllr -
D Davey F of Die Oog -
B Mtandana DWA -
J Green WESSA -
Vuyelwa Oalyi SanParks -
Suretha Dorse CCT -
Alvina Brand CCT -
Richard Burns CCT -
Ruth-Mary Fisher SanParks -
Melissa Tang CoCT -
Erica Hobbs Kirstenhof Wetlands -
Joshua Gericke CCT -
Shihabuddeen Khan CCT -
Sydney Saayman Durbanville -
James Rawlings FOCVGB  -

 

Apologies.

There were no apologies.

1. WELCOME (Attendance Register)
The Chairman welcomed all to the meeting and handed out copies of the Agenda and previous Minutes. 
NB Sandra Fowkes, Mandy Noffke & Gideon Topley did not sign attendance register.

2. APPROVAL OF PREVIOUS MINUTES – CORRECTIONS / ACTIONS
The minutes from the previous meeting were scanned and no amendments offered, except that Thandi Mmachaka of DWA requested that the spelling of her name and email address be corrected. 
The Action item on page 5 : Martin reported that he had spoken with Talcott about the water level at the top retention dam at Klaasenbosch and this had been sorted. There had been a storm water blockage causing the increased level.

3. CHANGES TO AGENDA - the order of the items on the agenda to be juggled slightly due to the late arrival of different speakers.

4. RESEARCH ON OTTERS – Nicola Oakes.

Nicola, who is undertaking research on the Cape Clawless Otter for her Ph.D, addressed the meeting on her findings to date, since her last report to the Forum in July 2012.
To recap, there are three otter species found only in Africa. Previous research had found that the CCO feeds mainly on fish and crab but they are opportunistic and forage on a wide variety of other creatures. They need quite specific habitat in that they require cover and reeds for dens to bring up their litters, and also fresh clean water. Water is needed to rinse, wash and cleanse their fur as it is very dense – the densest of all mammals – and is important for regulating body temperature.

Worldwide, otters are under threat because of the expanding urban environment. Nine of the 13 species in the world in are trouble. Two major threats common to all species are habitat fragmentation and water pollution. In the 1980’s, the European otter was declared locally extinct in parts of the UK and Netherlands and research has indicated that the decline in population was largely caused by an accumulation of toxins in the food, rain and rivers. It is now known that otters around the world are susceptible to toxin contamination. They are important to monitor as they may therefore act as an indicator or sentinel species. Where rivers have been restored in some parts of the UK however, otters have returned.

On the Cape Peninsula, there are good otter habitat areas surrounded by urbanisation and litter etc. What is the impact on our otters. There is very little information of what they are eating and where they are living and how they are adapting to pollution. The primary objective of the research is their diet to find out what they are currently eating. Scats are analysed to look at prey availability; and sign surveys to determine which rivers otters occupy in the Peninsula. Post mortems are conducted on deceased animals.

So far, more than 500 scats have been found in seven main systems. They are now doing occupancy surveys on 10 rivers across the Peninsula, looking at variables to give an indication of where they may live. Twelve dead otters have also been collected and examined.

Some of the challenges being encountered are theft of camera traps and other equipment; safety especially when working at night; access to private land where otters live. Progress is being made and they are hoping for more results by the end of the year. James Rawlings asked about the difference between the scats of otters and porcupines. Nicola said she would explain the difference to him after the meeting.

5. ZANDVLEI ESTUARY MANAGEMENT FORUM UPDATE JUNE 2013 TO JULY 2014 - Sandra Fowkes.

5.1. Big overall picture
Status:
The W Cape MEC for Environment Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, has advertised the proclamation of 14 City nature reserves- including Zandvlei- in terms of the National Environment Management: Protected Areas Act. Protected Areas have the option to have Advisory Committees appointed. ZEMF could now become part of a Protected Area Advisory Committee. This would give ZEMF legal status as well as the administrative support provided to Advisory Committees.

Administration: Following a meeting with Ossie Asmal, Head of ERMD, a commitment was made for the City to provide administrative support for quarterly meetings of ZEMF (even without the Protected Area status).

Interaction with other EMFs : In February 2014 the W Cape Province convened a half day workshop to discuss the operational and functional requirements of Estuaries Management Forums (EMF) with a view to strengthen and institutionalise the structures. It was attended by 12 EMF chairs and provided useful networking and insights into the operation of other EMFs.

5.2. Detailed management picture
5.2.1. Pondweed management:
The tensions of previous years appear to be considerably lessened with proactive planning between the Sandvlei manager, recreational users and Talcott Persent. Unfortunately the Kingfisher has about 20% downtime which is of considerable concern as there are indications that there will be very active weed growth in the next growing season.
5.2.2. Mouth management:
A workshop was held in part triggered by an insightful report compiled on a voluntary basis by local resident, geologist and keen fisherman, Dr Andy Killick about the expansion of the sandbar. Actions as a result of that workshop:

  • Application to DEADP for additional intervention of dredging the sandbars near the mouth to the existing mouth management permission. (Stop Press. Notification for Authorisation for dredging was received on 28 July 2014).

  • Rubble weir: a pilot to test if lowering the weir by about 200mm can make any impact on the sandbar was started on 17 June. Early visual indications from aerial photos from CCT photographer on 15 July are that sand might be shifting towards the mouth. MT arranged for 2 baseline bathymetric surveys to be done and a further one will be done after the mouth is closed again.

5.3. Progress
In June 2013 we reported “The mgmt. of the Nature Reserve is understaffed and unmotivatingly remunerated”. Happily there have been constructive developments, posts have been reviewed and the management team is currently reasonably stable.
Previous tensions between recreational users and managers have been largely alleviated through proactive planning to align events and pondweed cutting to high tides and mouth openings.

5.4. Challenges

  • Competent monitoring (June 2013) ZEMF is working to complete the review of the Detailed Action items of the EMP as some of the items were not practical.

  • Focus beyond treating symptoms to getting to causes – mentioned in June 2013 and will continue ad infinitum

  • Draw in all stakeholders – We are learning about very different assumptions about how the management should be undertaken among stakeholders. How to reconcile such diametric approaches will be part of the challenge for the future.

6.  PENINSULA PADDLE REPORT BACK (2014) – Dr Kevin Winter.

Kevin started by thanking Gavin Lawson for his photographs which he said were really good. This year, they had a theme of connecting citizens to their waterways. In 2010, the first PP had four participants and took 11 ½ hours from Muizenberg Beach to Milnerton, a distance of approximately 27 km. In that and the 2011 event, the handful of paddlers noticed two important things - ‘the health of the City is seen in the waterways’ and the City’s waterways divide people rather than connect them. Since then, the City’s EPWP programme has been brought into the rivers sustaining more than 200 jobs clearing and cleaning the waterways and the results are clearly evident at Princessvlei and on the Black River where the water is clear and clean.

This year, the entries closed at 80 as they could not handle more. The fact that Princessvlei’s fight against inappropriate development had been won had shown citizens’ “can do” mindset, after six years of fighting. This proves what citizens are able to achieve – and with the PP, it is felt that it is an opportunity to reconnect the City with its waterways. All parts of the City are connected by water and these can be used to transform different areas. How can we use waterways to reconnect and or rethink our City.
Martin Thompson said it would be interesting to discuss with his colleagues a way to include waterways in the transport, roads and rails portfolio.

7. WESTLAKE/POLLSMOOR POLLUTION UPDATE – Gideon Topley & Melissa Tang.

Melissa started by advising where things are currently, and how difficult it is to enforce matters on a State institution. They had a meeting with the Department of Public Works, who wanted to know what the issues were. They asked if there has been compliance. But they have no knowledge of the site or of the people working there and they know nothing about drainage.

A total upgrade of the sewer management plan with an entire sewerage upgrade at Pollsmoor would cost an estimated R13m. Then there is a tender process which has to be advertised, and Pollsmoor are currently waiting to appoint a contractor, so at this stage nothing has changed.
At the meeting, Melissa asked for an emergency spill plan, emergency sewer overflow plan and a drainage plan and sewer upgrade, for City to comment on. This has not yet been received. It would seem that some information is being withheld for security reasons.
Melissa is concerned about the lack of knowledge on the site about any kind of environmental maintenance. This will continue regardless of sewer upgrade.
The matter was taken to the head of ERM who suggested that they involve DEAD&P and Department of Water Affairs, and get them to start negotiations with Dept of PW so that an appropriate management plan can be produced, not just a once-off upgrade. A meeting is planned for this week.
Gideon added that Maximum Security will be responsible for their own cooking and Med. A and Med B responsible for their own dishwashing and cooking waste.

James asked if there is any time frame. Not at the moment and they are trying to pin them down and will be asking for an action plan.
Mandy asked how this was monitored; how do we know that they are doing the right stuff, and who is responsible - City or Province;. The only accurate check will be the water quality of the river.
Gideon responded that it will be difficult to find out who is responsible, but the operating plan should list what is to be done internally with periodic checks.

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

Mandy reported that they are still meeting regularly and the meetings are fairly well attended. The following is a short synopses from the minutes of the previous meeting which was held the week before. 
Report back on BiodiverCities Conference and Site Visit which was held in Kirstenbosch in April and incorporated presentations and debates from four cities; Mumbai, Nairobi, Rio and Cape Town, all which have national parks within their city boundaries. The site visit on the last day showcased the vision of a ‘source-sea corridor’ in Cape Town. Delegates walked down two river corridors (Diep and Prinskasteel/ Keysers), passing either Princess Vlei or Zandvlei, to end at the FBEP headquarters. Lunch was provided at the Village Heights informal settlement. The response of the delegates was extremely positive.

A huge eye-opener that resulted was that there is evidence of a disconnect between what is happening ‘on the ground’ at an operational level and what is occurring at a higher planning level. Jess Kavonic has become involved in this river corridor legacy project and it is hoped that this will aid in bridging that gap.

It was suggested there should be a plan that looks at river corridors and has overarching layers that demarcate environmental buffers, recreational areas, non-motorised transport and areas of no development etc. This data has already been collected.

Specific projects include:
De Hel: It was mentioned that a meeting was scheduled for 12 August to sign a MoU and to present management plans for rivers in Ward 62. This Ward will be the only one to have a plan for its rivers. This plan hopes to improve working relations, give operational guidance and appoint and idientify inter-departmental responsibilities.

Soetvlei: There is funding for clearing and a meeting will be arranged.

Spaanschemat Trail: There have been no sewer spills for a very long time with the pollution levels seemingly relatively low. A meeting is planned with Talcott to discuss the extensive erosion that is occurring in the area.

The Vlei has been beautifully cleared and is beginning to look like it had in the past. A huge amount of alien species have been cleared. However, there is still quite a lot of Wandering Jew. It is felt that the Vlei can really be of value in the future and become a focus of Working for Wetlands.

River wardens: The programme has not really grown because of lack of capacity. However, the Westlake team has been quite successful with the plan for some members of this team to become supervisors, moving between teams and extending their influence. A large amount of funding has been received from many different sources allowing the project to continue. However, the biggest challenge is transport and issues with equipment.

City’s Tree Policy: Louise Stafford had commented on the City’s Tree policy which she believes still doesn’t adequately address the problems. The NEMBA regulations have not been passed with Chapter 5 having to be revised (to hopefully include an invasive species law). Many factors are restricting the processes, preventing this being signed off. Louise currently working, with the Ethekwini Municipality (and others), to develop an invasive unit management plan that could be used extensively. WESSA was not given the chance to comment and it was suggested that Mandy become a registered recognised organisation by the City so that communication of this nature can be distributed straight to these organisations. WESSA can then distribute to their respective database.

9. GENERAL
There is a need for knowledge transfer prior to MT retirement, and a suggestion made that the SRCF think of questions/topics/issues that they would like to gain insight into so that they can draw on MT’s profound knowledge and experiences.

  • There is a need for potential research on sourcing pollutants, understanding the source of nutrient loading and allowing for mitigation and/or prosecution. A proposal was made this research could align with the idea of getting schools to become custodians of certain river sections. The Youth Design Studio, a World Design Capital Project, run by Julie Goodness, would be a great avenue to begin this discussion including Eco-schools.
  • Regarding extensive silt loads that are being washed down the river corridors, it was suggested that this needs to be addressed. A meeting with the Land Care Unit has already been arranged.
  • The condition of the Zandvlei Estuary mouth was reported on and the fact that the weir has been lowered in an attempt to reduce some of the silt load.
  • Mandy was congratulated on what she does with the operational working group, getting so many diverse people on board working together in a non-confrontational way.
  • A tribute was given to Martin Thompson, as this meeting may be his last before retirement and everyone expressed appreciation and thanks for the time and effort he has put into keeping the SRCF on track. Gavin also added that George Ellis needs to be thanked, as he was a driving force for getting the Forum in action again, after some years of inactivity. Martin responded with thanks and said the Forum’s success was due to the input from all – everyone plays a part. No replacement has yet been named.

The meeting closed at 12h45.

11. NEXT MEETING
No date was set for the next meeting. Please note the starting time of 09h30.


                                                                                                                                                

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