Zandvlei Trust

SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 28th June 2011 at 13h30 at the Alphen Council Chambers.

Present
Martin Thompson:            CCT Roads & Stormwater    (Chairman)
Candice Haskins:            CCT Roads & Stormwater
Jean Fillis:                      Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
John Green:                    WESSA & Friends of Tokai Forest
James Forsyth:               FCVGB
Sharon McCallum:           ZVT                                   (Minutes Secretary)
John Fowkes:                  ZVT
Gavin Lawson:                 ZVT
Kevin Winter:                   UCT
Melissa Tang:                 WPC
Barry Wood:                  
CCT Roads & Stormwater
Claire McKinnon:             Solid Waste CCT
Erica Hobbs:                   Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
Malcolm Pearce:             Friends of Die Oog
Pauline Pearce:              FO Die Oog
Cassy Sheasby:             CCT  Biodiversity Management 
Brian February:               CCT Water Pollution Control 
Eugene Rayners:            CCT  Parks 
Megan Walsh:                CCT  ERM  

Apologies
Brian Ratcliffe:                FOCVGB

 

As per the attendence register.

1. Welcome / Apologies & Attendance Register
The Chairman, Martin Thompson, welcomed those present to the meeting and handed out copies of the agenda and previous minutes. Only one apology was recorded.

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

3. Action items from the last Minutes
Item 9.1. – Claire McKinnon will address the meeting about a number of items around solid waste.
Item 9.2. – Melissa Tang will likewise address the meeting in response to the previous action note. 

4. Additional items under General.
Cassy asked that Phase 2 of the Zandvlei Management Plan be included on the agenda – it was agreed that she could speak about this after Candice’s address on Zandvlei Estuary Protocol. John Fowkes requested that alien vegetation be included under item 9 on the agenda.

5. Pennisula Paddle 2011 - Kevin Winter

This, the second, Peninsula Paddle along Cape Town’s water ways took place on World Environment Day, 5th June 2011 starting at 7 am from Zandvlei and finishing at Milnerton Lagoon. This year included a number of different zones from the first paddle last year which meant that different people could join the paddle at different places along the route. For more information see www.peninsulapaddle.wordpress.com
When asked what is it all about - Kevin says he responds that first it is about ‘fun’ - as a lot of environmental work these days is boring, like collecting rubbish and clearing alien vegetation. We have got to find events that appeal to the greater public to get them interested in environmental issues.

Another point was to get into the press to reach people that may believe that this is something worthwhile that they would like to get involved in. A number of stand-up paddlers caught the attention of the media which was great. The event also got onto National TV.

What they found that it is mostly bottles that clog our rivers - seldom plastic. A letter has been written to the Minister of Environment so that steps can be taken in terms of legislation to deal with bottles in rivers.

Different people and organizations did different activities in each zone e.g. Kim of Scenic South picked up litter in the zone in which she participated; at Princessvlei groups of learners were taught to paddle; Jungle Theatre put on some entertainment and WESSA and Educo were in attendance.

Some of the interesting points on the route included :

  • A cycle stretch from Plumstead to Kenilworth because they were unable to paddle the whole route;

  • On the Black River they had to drag their boats through the sludge even though Friends of Liesbeeck had created a path through the water hyacinth;

  • Paddled into Woodstock beach surf zone and then up the Milnerton Lagoon to the canoe club where the expedition ended.

  • Kevin took water samples at various sites along the way and showed slides to illustrate the different chemical constitutents in the water quality.

Martin Thompson asked where the project is going. Kevin’s response was to get more people involved – to encourage more participation from students and paddlers of colour from other clubs. There has been a suggestion to put cameras on the helmets of the paddlers so that their view of the waterways can be recorded.

Also, they are creating awareness of the pollution problems and bringing more publicity about where the pollution comes from.

John - asked whether the Sea Scouts had been approached to be involved and Kevin enthusiastically agreed to speak to them for next year.

6. Solid Waste - Claire McKinnon

Claire began with some background information and then said she would respond to questions.

Solid Waste (SW) is applicable to everything except the wheelie bin services which falls under a different department - it includes carcass removal, illegal dumping and a whole myriad of area clearing. The challenge has been to get the public to understand what the department does and what it does not do. A further challenge is what SW ends up in the water. SW Department picks up everything up to the edge of the water - once something is in the water, it falls under a different department - but there are grey areas. If a park is littered, Parks Department must clear and likewise, once in the water, it is out of SW’s budget. This approach is adhered to except in the informal settlements, where SW workers are issued with rakes and they use these to remove anything that they can reach. This also creates challenges as it is difficult to determine where boundaries end when it comes to rivers and canals.

Generally, cleaning is done as it is needed - no sweeping the street and ignoring the pavement. All is to be cleaned from one boundary to another. Unfortunately this same method cannot be followed in the waterways. SW will take out litter if it can be reached but beyond that, they cannot do.

In response to the question, where does the litter comes from, informal settlements are usually accused of being the major cause. However, every informal settlement received a weekly door to door collection service with free black bags and ongoing five day a week litter cleaning. In the settlements, it is mostly very clean. On the periphery however there is usually dumping from surrounding areas to avoid land fill costs.

A big problem is the formal areas with backyard dwellers which are often the cause of dumping. They get a wheelie bin but some landlords will not let their backyard dwellers use their bin; alternatively, they can use but must empty if it gets full before collection. This is when dumping in canals happens, or on an open piece of ground. Currently there is no solution to the estimated 42000 backyard dwellers and the City is endeavouring to be inventive in finding solutions.

Claire asked if there was anyone at the meeting from the Sewerage Department – she says there should be because a big problem is the lack of toilet facilities. Vagrants prefer to squat near a water way. They sometimes use containers and empty them into the water after use.

Litter is also a huge problem in the waterways. As backyard dwellers get better services and toilet facilities, there should be improvements. This sector needs electricity, refuse collection and toilet facilities. Martin Thompson said that there is a special group at City looking at backyarders.

Martin Thompson asked about illegal dumping. Claire said that this should be reported in different ways:

  • If the person reporting does not know who did the dumping, call 0860103089.

  • If you see somebody dumping and get a registration number of a vehicle or you know where they come from, then report to SW Law Enforcement Branch on 021 4006157. SW has means to track a vehicle and the owner will be fined.

Some good news is that special operations, with a no tolerance approach, arrive unannounced in identified areas where there is high littering and dumping. The have authority to fine and will also check on businesses as there is legislation that every business has to have a contract for removal of waste.

James Forsyth commended Brent Diedricks – he quickly arranged 3 green bins near certain businesses, when requested to do so. Claire explained that green bins can only be placed where they can be serviced, which is why they can go near a business. They are still testing a new baboon-proof prototype of the green bin.

Claire’s telephone number is 021 4002822. She invited calls from anyone with problems or queries.

John Green left the meeting at this stage.

Reverting back to action item no. 9.1 and the question of mowing – Eugene of the Parks Department briefly spoke to the meeting. If anyone has problems with mowing, they should phone him on 021 701 1233/4. Jean Fillis has been liaising with him regarding mowing in the Kirstenhof Wetlands area with particular reference to Leopard Toad activity. The contractor has been advised to be particularly vigilant and Eugene will work closely with the contractor.

7. Climate Change - Barry Wood

Barry’s presentation focused on flood risk management – and the City’s management strategies in regard to climate change.

By way of introduction, he said that the many streams and constructed storm water systems as well as a number of storm water ponds need to be managed. Cape Town is a flat coastal city with high water tables with many wetlands and vleis and mild wet winters. There is a large rainfall variation between the mountain areas and the Cape Flats, where water doesn’t easily flow. Cape Town is also a fast growing city with 3.7 million residents, the majority of whom live on the Cape Flats, where there is vulnerability in terms of coping with disaster.

The City has an energy and climate change strategy and think tank looking at the high hazard areas for flooding in the informal settlement areas where water gets trapped; flood plains of water courses; retention ponds that can flood; low lying coastal areas.

The strategy plan is moving away from engineering the environment and focusing rather on engineering development which is founded on 4 pillars;

  • Disaster planning

  • Infrastructure design

  • Appropriate development

  • Effective communications with communities

Communities need to understand that the City cannot protect them from major flooding and that they need also to help themselves.

Predicted impacts of climate change include:

  • Reduction in rainfall;

  • Temperature extremes with shifting wind patterns

  • Increased frequency and magnitude of rain events = more flooding

  • Sea level rise and storm surge.

Currently there is a lot of work being done on climate change science and cues are being taken from global circulation models and global climate patterns. However, the big question is how to localise or downscale these models. The results are often patchy. Different strategies are being investigated to predict future flood levels in respect of rain and sea level rising. What has been found is low correlation between big sea events and big rainfall events.

What is important is planning for the future. The City needs to allow for big changes i.e. how does the City control and manage development in the context of the possible changes.

Cassie asked about developments being permitted in the “wrong places” e.g. along Baden Powell Drive near Muizenberg. Barry responded that coastal zone management has not been properly considered, but flooding, whether from a river or from the sea, is still flooding.

8. Zandvlei Estuary Protocol - Candice Haskins / Cassandra Sheasby

Candice’s presentation and the document that will be submitted to DEADP will be annexed as separate documents for those who are interested.

An update on the Zandvlei Management Plan was presented by Cassie. A proposal was submitted to City which was approved with R100 000 towards implementation. Certain terms of reference had to be re-arranged. It is now in the implementation phase of trying to get the project off the ground and happening. The action plan was reprioritized and the MOU was signed about 10 days prior, with Pierre de Villiers of the Cape Estuaries Programme.

Phase 2 of the final implementation plan will be the same format that Lynn Jackson did with Rietvlei, i.e. getting all stakeholders involved to look at applying for some serious funding for some of the bigger projects. There will also be some effort to get buy in at National and Provincial level.

9. Friends Group Report Back

9.1. James Forsyth reported back on behalf of Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelt and showed a number of slides of different areas where they had been working throughout the year, which included - 
9.1.1. “The Hill” on the M3 (just north of the free standing Bridge) was cleared of alien vegetation last year and the granite fynbos on top is resuscitating. Ongoing maintenance was done by the Invasive Species Programme.
9.1.2. A number of trees have been planted on Soetvlei Ave which are being taken care of by the neighbours as Parks appear unable to water trees anymore.
9.1.3. Grootboskloof greenbelt is looking great

  • In 2008 Stormwater did some river bank shaping below the Neva close bridge

  • Wetland plants from the Working for Wetlands nursery were planted by the FOCVG

  • The FOCVG fund a gardener who maintains a section of the trail.

9.1.4. The Spaanschemat River trail has a problem with Spaanse riet growing rapidly up the river banks. Because of lack of maintenance a laterite path has become totally overgrown and the only effective way of eradicating this alien will be to dig it out mechanically.

9.1.5. Alphen Trail has been enhanced.

  • The City funded a pathway for physically disabled.

  • A dysfunctional concrete dam demolished and removed

  • A new bridge has been installed connecting the north and south banks which has effectively doubled the length of the trail.

  • Brommaert Place Bridge was falling down and they could not get any department to take responsibility for its repair. In the end Ward Allocation funds were used to repair the bridge.

  • After numerous meetings with Parks they have started to clear the alien vegetation out of the retention dam opposite the Alphen Manor house and are moving up the Alphen trail.

9.1.6. In Klaasenbosch, Parks donated trees and the planting funded by FOCVG; a few were lost because of the dry season and none of the rooi-els grew. There are now 96 Afromontane trees planted in the area which are looked after by Prof van der Merwe who has created two arboreta in the past.
9.1.7. The Diep River Trail had a boggy area – a boardwalk has been built over the seep and linked the existing bridge. Another boardwalk has been built above the bridge with Ward Allocation funds. The Diep River trail is also being cleared of alien vegetation with FOCVG funds
9.1.8. De Hell off Southern Cross Driver had alien vegetation cleared and an incredible amount of granite fynbos has been exposed. A tent was found in the undergrowth of the aliens, with 40 black bags of rubbish.

9.2. With his other hat, James also reported back for Friends of Tokai Park which included;
9.2.1. There is new signage at Tokai with the Plantation renamed Tokai Park.
9.2.2. A major controlled burn took place with approximately 40 workers and some specialists on site– the natural resuscitation is apparent already.
9.2.3. SANParks have put in new laterite paths around the perimeter of the Park. This 4.5km path was partially funded by Western Province Pedal Power and is proving very popular. It is very exciting watching nature come back.
9.2.4. Friends of Tokai Park supervised the building of two bridges across the river.
9.2.5. Hundreds of trees have been planted on either side of the path. The tree planting was organised by TMNP and the actual planting was done by many locals by invitation. The tree planting turned into a fun event.
His finishing remark was that the devil is in the detail!!

9.3. Jean Fillis report on Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands – which covers Westlake River and the greenbelt surrounding it stretching from the M3 to Main Road : -
9.3.1. A monthly work date was started to involve members and although they had 8 or 9 the first time, recently only 2 – 4 arrive despite reminders.
9.3.2. The Parrots Feather at the pond has grown back since the weevils disappeared in April. Parks has been requested many times to remove the pile of dead weed, but not yet done. Chandre Rhoda has been contacted for more weevils and she has said she would try and get them.
9.3.3. Suretha Dorse suggested focussing on fewer trees and more Restios and other plants normally found along a water course. However the donated trees had to be planted. Within 3 days of restaking and shade-clothing the trees, some stakes were stolen. There are still more to plant plus 4 Milkwoods donated by James Forsyth. With the help of Wessa’s borehole water, the gardens have survived the summer and the Milkwoods have grown well with a neighbour’s donated wellpoint water.
9.3.4. A matric student who cleared the aliens earlier this year offered to help as part of his community work. With permission from Parks, he cleared overgrown shrubs and trees along the river. The branches were piled up and Parks requested to move, which they have done intermittently. The student says he will return during the holidays and finish clearing.
9.3.5. There was a sudden blue-green algae bloom but this has subsided with the rains.
9.3.6. The challenges are to get funding for more alien clearing, the clearing of the duck pond of Parrots Feather and river health.

9.4. Sharon McCallum summarised the activites of Zandvlei Trust as follows;
9.4.1. Annual participation in Kite Festival – some changes to happen this year due to lack of resources at Zandvlei. Muizenberg Rate Payers will be ensuring all Cassy’s requirements are complied with so that she doesn’t have to attend to them. Also David trying to improve the quality of the craft market, which is currently more of a flea market.
9.4.2. Fund raising event at Masque Theatre last year raised sufficient funds to cover transport for EE for a number of schools in the area to attend weekly at the Reserve. Schools so far are Zerilda Primary, who has been coming regularly for about 8 years; Steenberg Primary also been attending for some years; Levana Primary. Just recently been requested for assistance by the special needs class of Fairview Primary School – paid for transport for a weekly visit during school hours for the rest of this term and next term will be considered once funds available are known.Another similar fund raiser is planned for July and will probably be used for the same purpose.
9.4.3. Zandvlei Trust have also sponsored R50 a week for a young unemployed man from Vrygrond to accompany the Zerilda learners in the taxi – which has meant that the outings can continue whilst their teacher was off school having an operation. This is ongoing arrangement.
9.4.4. Awarded R30 000 from the City as a grant in aid – for various plantings around the area – and applied for a further grant. Still waiting to hear.
9.4.5. As a result of ZVT lobbying, Zandvlei Nature Reserve is being opened to the public on a Saturday morning four times a year – still hoping for more if funding can be found.
9.4.6. Alice Ashwell ran some EE lessons in the holidays last year with the children from Vrygrond – and will be doing the same this winter holiday. ZVT helped pay for some of her costs.
9.4.7. Funding application to the Lotteries for funding for an Environmental Education programme and camp – compiled by Alice Ashwell on behalf of ZVT.
9.4.8. Financial assistance to the Reserve – ZVT resolved to pay for labour assistant to help Cassy in her efforts to take care of Zandvlei – initially 3 days a week for a trial six month period.
9.4.9. A second grant of R10 000.00 was received this year for the water hyacinth clearing project.
9.4.10. ZVT, through one of its members and the Trust itself, sponsors two labourers working on Park Island to keep it clean and clear of litter.
9.4.11. ZVT continues to financially support the Westlake Wetland Gardens and the two labourers that work there on a weekly basis.
9.4.12. The Botany Group under the Zandvlei Inventory Monitoring Programme has been a Task Team of ZVT for many years and as a result of the work undertaken, there will be a launch of the herbarium on 20th July at the Zandvlei Yacht Club and on the open day on 23rd July, the herbarium will be available in the Education Centre for student study and viewing.

9.5. Malcolm Pierce presented for Friends of Die Oog;
9.5.1. Friends committee of 9 meet monthly; website is updated regularly with average 100 hits/ per month; falling membership a problem and main income is from donations, school visits and notelets sold, but this does enable employment of a gardener once a week;
9.5.2. Parks sent the reedcutter from Zandvlei to remove aquatic weed and after more than a week’s work, at least ten lorry loads was removed. Water quality is good but there are signs of regrowth and clearing will have to be more regular. Hoping for successful Leopard Toad breeding this year after the sad response last year.
9.5.3. Virgil Jacobs of Working for Wetlands arranged for Jenny Moses and her team to work for two weeks clearing the alien plant growth in the wetland area, which is now looking good with much bird activity.
9.5.4. Parks, under supervision of Suretha Dorse of Biodiversity, cleared the island of dead bamboo and oleander and a replanting programme has begun. Have applied for funding for plants and hope to buy enough plants to replant the whole island. Because there is no place for large birds to roost, guano does not leech into water causing over-nutrification. New planting will hopefully encourage small birds to roost.
9.5.5. Although a ward allocation was granted for urgent repair of the historic dam wall, for many reasons this has not been done, and the money is lost to the project. The path is dangerously slippery and they worry about a child slipping into the water. The advice of a professional engineer is recommended for best protection.

10. Westlake River pollution - Melissa Tang

It has taken almost a year, but Steenberg Village Shopping Centre is greatly improved. There were collapsing pipes and leaking sewers, but are mostly now repaired. The car wash has a petrol-oil interceptor to monitor the process. Grease traps have been installed at Pick n Pay and also one at Mamma Mia restaurant. However, these improvements need to be monitored regularly.

The Westlake river sampling – 4 sets of samples have been taken since October 2010 at different points, the latest being a week ago, which has shown high e.coli counts. There needs to be some serious education on the Westlake Estate, which has the same problem as mentioned earlier with backyard dwelling and water discharged onto roads, as well as horses and goats.

Melissa and Talcott Persent and Martin will be looking at outlets from Pollsmoor as there is a need to keep a check on what is happening.

11. Next Meeting

Tuesday 4th October 2011 – at 13h30 in the Sturrock Room at the Alphen Council Chambers, Constantia.

                                                                                                                                               

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