Zandvlei Trust

SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 21st June 2010 at 13h30 at the Alphen Council Chambers.

Present
Martin Thompson  :           CCT Roads & Stormwater  
(Chairman)
Candice Haskins :            CCT - CSRM
Liz Brunette :                   Constantia Hills Res. Ass
Leighan Mossop :             TMNP
Cassandra Sheasby :        CCT Zandvlei Nature Reserve
Margit van Heerden :         CCT Zandvlei Nature Reserve
Jean Fillis :                      Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
Erica Hobbs :                   Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
Ann Coltham :                  Constantia Hills Res. Ass
Wayne Steyn :                 CCT Parks
Gavin Lawson :                 ZVT
James Forsyth:                FCVGB
Mandy Noffke :                 Wetland Solutions 
Dennis Davey :                 Friends of Die Oog
Sharon McCallum :           ZVT                    (Minutes Secretary)
Brian Ratcliffe :                 FOCVGB
Karen Watkins :               Constantiaberg Bulletin
Terry Schorn :                  CCT Sewer Management
Melissa Tang :                 CCT Water Pollution Control
Mike Mulder :                   CCT Water Pollution Control
Tebogo Sesinye :              CCT Scientific Services
Humbulani Munzhelele :    CCT Scientific Services
Yongama Seb:                  CCT Scientific Services
Mdele Mohlala:                 CCT Scientific Services
Kevin Winter :                   UCT
Michael Tanner :               UCT - friend of Kevin Winter

Apologies
John Green :                    WESSA & Friends of Tokai Forest
Janice Behr :                    Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
John Fowkes :                  ZVT
George Davis :                  SANBI
Virgil Jacobs:                    SANBI
Louise Kinrade :                Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands

1. Welcome / Apologies & Attendance Register
Martin Thompson, as Chairman, welcomed those present to the meeting and handed out copies of the agenda and previous minutes.

2. Approval of the previous Minutes
There were no changes made to the minutes of the previous meeting.

3. Action items from the last Minutes

  • Page 2 - Cassy has not yet been able to make contact with Philippa Huntley about her fish presentation being included in a Wetlands forum meeting. This will be done in the future.

  • Page 3 - Appraisal of CT’s rivers - MN and Valerie Morris are still to meet.

  • Page 10 - River Issues – The meeting MN suggested has happened - no-one attended from Sanparks. GL reports that Mandy says things have not moved much because of funding issues and she has to redo the layout proposal with the fundraiser from WESSA.

4. Additional Items Under General : None were added.

5. Zandvlei Estuary Management Plan - Lynn Jackson
LJ has been contracted by Cape Nature (with City contributing to the budget) to develop a Zandvlei Estuary Management Plan (ZEMP) – which will be part of the Cape Estuaries programme. Her presentation included a description of the Management Plan, the definition of an estuary, a situation assessment looking at problem areas and highlighting certain issues.

The Cape Estuaries Programme was initiated because:

  • Estuaries have not previously been included in any management programme and are in serious decline. The reason for this is that they do not fall clearly within the portfolio of one department - because they are saline and fresh water. It was decided that they need specific attention.

  • The enactment of the Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2009 makes it obligatory on the department to develop a protocol to give a specific approach to estuaries and to develop estuary management plans.

 

A generic approach to estuary management plans has been developed and LJ has been appointed to take over the first three phases including the situation assessment and a stakeholder workshop to present the main findings, to try and find agreement on the main problem areas and to set up working groups involving specialists and representatives of various NGO’s and HOA’s in an attempt to find a way forward. She will then develop the ZEMP and a five year action plan.

  • Phases 2 and 3 will be very participatory and Phase 4 will comprise implementation.

  • One of the problems identified with Zandvlei is the difficulty defining the boundaries of the estuary - namely which criteria to use. It has been decided to use the 100 year flood line which includes the residential area.

  • The situation assessment looked at the biophysical criteria (geology, biology, hydrology) combined with the fact that there have been changes to the shape of the estuary and to the biodiversity as a result. The socio-economic value of the estuary is also a criteria that is becoming more important. It has to be shown how important an estuary is from an economic perspective to get support for proper management.

  • Most of the threats to the estuary have been in place for a long time, back to the 1970’s – which include the manipulating of the mouth of the estuary, pondweed and the harvesting thereof. Some current problem areas include :

  • Water level management and salinity - balance the needs of conservation and recreation;

  • Much monitoring but mostly uncoordinated and so not used effectively;

  • Limited information on some animal groups (invertebrates / amphibians) - there has been no direct survey;

  • There is some information on fish and birds - lots of counts but trends not analysed;

  • Relatively little information on the socio-economic importance.

A preliminary proposal to better balance the needs of the recreation and conservation is the use of a zonation plan which divides the vlei into different areas to be used by different parties e.g. a sanctuary or conservation area - low / medium / high intensity. There would need to be buffer zones and recognition of developing areas.

Other proposals include a standardization of water quality monitoring and investigating the socio-economic importance which looks at a range of issues including property and recreational values. There is a possibility for more eco-tourism in the area. Would people living in the area be prepared to contribute towards maintaining the system?

In closing, there are many opportunities and initiatives that could contribute to the development of an effective management plan for Zandvlei and which should be investigated.

BR asked in connection with his knowledge of the Environmental Management Plan of Hermanus, who would co-ordinate and take responsibility for the management plan once in place as this is critical for its successful functioning. LJ responded that this would need to be discussed in depth and possibly a management forum established - the SRCF may be relevant for this.

MN mentioned that she is involved with an aquatic weed management plan and preliminary evaluations indicate that Zandvlei may be selected - this would dovetail quite nicely with LJ’s work.

6. Land Restitution - Liz Brunette
LB introduced herself as the Chairperson of the Constantia Hills Residents Association and had, over the last 2 years, become involved with the land restitution claims in Constantia.

Her presentation will be annexed to these minutes for in depth perusal.

DD asked at the end whether the successful claimants would be permitted to sell their properties immediately. LB advised that there had been a policy of “no sale for 10 years” prohibition but the CHRA felt that this is wrong – it would become an asset of the claimaint and they should be entitled to deal with it as they deem fit. Any development would have to be in line with the regulations for the area of the land.

7. Peninsula Paddle Event - Kevin Winter
This event with four paddlers and which took place in June, went from Zandvlei at dawn to Woodstock in one day. The object was to look at Cape Town’s water ways and to talk to people on the way. They wanted to keep the focus away from water quality and focus more on what people were doing and saying. He showed a large number of slides of their journey which looked like lots of fun. At Princessvlei they did some environmental education with approximately 40 children who paddled out to meet them. They had to walk about 50% of the way because of lack of water or pollution. The Black River was one of the best stages - they interacted with Friends of the Liesbeeck and finished before dark at Woodstock beach.

The event generated much interest and it is hoped that something similar could develop into a regular (e.g. annual) event with large numbers of people paddling their kayaks through the different water ways of our City - bringing awareness and knowledge and publicity to these vital parts of Cape Town.

MN said there had not been much notice about the event beforehand. KW said that it had only been decided three weeks before so that there had not been much time to publicise the journey better. They will be better prepared next time.

8. River Health - Humbulani Munzhelele
HM has taken over from CH and gave a presentation on what is incorporated in the City’s river health programme.
This includes biological monitoring using different criteria and which gets quick results in the field. By doing assessments on the presence of certain invertebrates that exist in a river system, one can quickly establish how healthy the river system is while also giving an indication of the ecology. The main purpose being to serve as a source of information and to report on the overall ecological status of rivers in the country - to detect any problems as they occur - and to identify, if possible, the source of the problem so that remedial action can be taken.

A variety of indices are used including aquatic invertebrates (different species have different tolerances to water quality), fish (different species prefer different types of water e.g. flow or still), riparian vegetation to give an integrated habitat assessment, as many factors lead to poor water quality.

Factors that affect water quality include housing developments, farmlands, sewerage, dumping, industries.

He gave some results of recent testings in the Constantia area which reflected a fair condition with room for improvement however.

9. Westlake Rivers

9.1. Algal Episode - MN handed out an updated report on the incidents dated April/May 2010.

9.1.1. Property Inspections - Mike Mulder
MM, who works for the City in Water Pollution Control, reported on some sewer property inspections following on the recent algal blooms, in particular the Westlake Business Park and shopping area as well as the Steenberg wine areas. He gave a detailed description of how the P'nP building at the Steenberg Shopping Centre does not comply with washing and cleaning bins in the court yard. All the by-product goes into the stormwater system untreated.

A few restaurants also do not comply with grease trap cleaning or deep fryer cleaning materials and methods. Most of the grease traps are too small and the slop cleanings go into the refuse bin removals, which end up running out of the removal trucks onto the roads and back into the stormwater systems. The disposal method happens when the traps are blocked by fats in the system. He explained the use of the correct cleaning materials which help keep the fats broken down in the system. It is easy to recognise the incorrect cleaning products by the distance from the disposal point that the fats build up and cause blockages.

An issue at the Centre is that the managing agents, Rabie's, contract has recently (end May) terminated and has been taken up by Broll Agents. So the City departments have to deal with a new team of people. The owners of the Centre have been served with a notice of compliance by Water Pollution and the Health depts. The fat build ups in the sewerage system contribute to the clogging of the pipes at certain junctions where hard papers instead of soft toilet tissue and rags even pieces of wood from the Westlake RDP housing area have blocked the system. The housing area was designed for 2000 residents and there are 6000 living there many in backyard rented shacks with no services available (toilet and refuse removal). Various options have been tried. Night soil and other material is often put into the stormwater system to get rid of it.

JF (which one) asked whether inspections were undertaken regularly - MM replied that they try to do inspections regularly but also do so when required or asked for. The reports are updated on a three year basis.

MN expressed anxiety about the City having to “police” tenants and owners and suggested that some audit reporting or an operational management plan for a shopping centre, which enforces an internal audit may be worth thinking about. Jean Fillis reported from Councillor Josephs that the City has handed out free black bags to shack dwellers and even tried distribution of toilet paper. It is difficult to control the correct use of these subsidised items.

9.1.2. Sewer Overflows - Terry Schorn
Martin reported that he has established communication with the health and safety official at Pollsmoor where the monitoring and reporting on the sewer line will be done every second day. The officials have the direct phone numbers of the heads of municipal departments for emergency situations. The camera inspection of the sewer pipes in the area was completed last week and no broken, collapsed or misaligned pipes were found.

Terry confirmed the above adding that often children put materials into the stormwater and sewer systems so they can see the trucks with people come to sort out the problems. The Prison has all sorts of objects put down the sewers also to cause issues with the system for annoyance purposes. Mostly blankets are found with rags, and for this reason the macerating plant is being installed to break down and remove the solid items from the system to prevent blockages.

9.1.3. Pollsmoor and Westlake Visit - Gavin Lawson
The PowerPoint records were shown of the visit to Pollsmoor and the Westlake River inspection of the new school site with Councillor Josephs organised by the Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands.

10. Spaanschemat Voor at Sillery - Brian Ratcliffe
Brian gave a quick overview of the history of the Sillery development site from about 7 years ago. Presently the sticking issue with the developers is the access to the "voor" for the general public as the proposed residential erven extend onto the "voor" which has been illegally filled and buried by the previous owner’s family. The developers petitioned the Minister in December 2009, he being new, did not over-rule his department's decision and conceded a "provisional protection" to the "voor". In February 2010 a land claim was instituted by Hassen Sadien for the site. His Grandfather lived on the property. He was successful for the Odekraal applicants in overturning that proposed development site. The Land Claim court ruling is this Friday 25th June. In the interim, a sub committee (of which Brian is a member) have to advise Heritage Western Cape on a number of issues going back in this proposed development site. The Friends group have met with and discussed the issue with the land claimants and have a letter of support from the Sadien family for the preservation of the "voor" as a heritage site.
GL has requested Brian to fax him a copy of his notes from the meeting so that he can summarise  it on the website as a speaker’s presentation. Brian responded that he had adlibbed the talk from notes he had made. He has produced a 38 page report he summarised for the Heritage Western Cape meeting which has not taken place yet. They incorporated his summary into a 200 page DVD for its members to read which defeats all Brian’s work to summarise it. He believes 200 pages will just not be read.

11. GENERAL

11.1. Various Miscellaneous Projects - Mandy Noffke
Mandy reported her Aquatic weed workshop is this Wednesday 23rd June and not 24th. She also reported that progress is slow with the funding with Chris Meintjies, as they decided to orientate the structure of the funding proposal to the social aspect of each listed project for the Source to Sea.

11.2. Friends Groups
The Friends of Die Oog - Denis Davies, Friends of Kirstenhof - Jean Fillis and Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts - James Forsyth gave short feedback of activities by its members, issues being dealt with and interesting observations about the lack of Western Leopard Toadlet sightings this year.

12. NEXT MEETING

Monday, 27th September 2010 at 13h30 at the Alphen Chambers.

                                                                                                                                    

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