Zandvlei Trust

SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM

Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 09:30 at SanParks, Cape Research Centre.

Present
M Thompson                    CoCT: CSRM
B Ratcliffe                        Constantia Valley Greenbelt
T Persent                        CoCT: Roads & Stormwater Catchment Management
Justin Smit                      CoCT : Roads & Stormwater Catchment Management
S Dorse                          CoCT: ERM
G Lawson                        ZVT
J Green                           WESSA
J Fillis                             F of Kirstenhof Wetlands
L Brunette                       Councillor: Ward 62
Mandy Noffke                  WESSA
Sharon McCallum            ZVT
Eugene Rayners              CoCT : City Parks
J Gericke                        CoCT ERM Biodiversity
S Fowkes                       ZEMF
Wayne Steyn                  CoCT : City Parks
Ian McCallum                  Speaker
Ann Coltham                   Speaker
Darryl Colenbrander         Speaker

Apologies.
Louise Kinrade, Erica Hobbs (both from Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands), James Forsyth, James Rawlings, Melissa Tang and Lynn Jackson (Speaker).

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. Sandra Fowkes mentioned that the minutes of the SRCF meetings had enormous historical value – as well as the website (maintained by Gavin Lawson) – and she expressed her appreciation.

3. ACTION ITEMS
Item 8 – Martin Thompson had supplied Melissa with James’ details, and has spoken to Malcolm Cupdo of Environmental Health.

4. ITEMS UNDER GENERAL
Princess Kasteel River was suggested as a topic under general.

5. SEA LEVEL RISE – Darryl Colenbrander  (NB not signed attendance register)
Darryl commenced his presentation by reminding the forum that he had given a presentation to SRCF some years ago and had agreed to report on current issues and setbacks – how far we have come!
He displayed some slides which showed how the coast has been transformed by much development and other decisions in the past, with the result that the coast line is no longer able to function naturally along many parts of the coastline. This is one of the main problems i.e. coastal transformation is increasing pressure on the coast which is set to be exacerbated considering the expected impacts of climate change. If we take climate change away from the equation, we still have the same series of pressures and inappropriate decision making to contend with.
There has been intensive and inappropriate development in the past with loss of coastal eco-systems and their associated services (such as the ability of dune systems to act as buffers against storm surges) we thus expose ourselves to coastal risks. A number of slides were shown – before and later – indicating large differences in the coastlines. The local dune systems previously kilometres inland have been restricted to narrow belts mere meters wide in some places. The reduction of dune systems to such an extent has meant that these systems are no longer self supporting and require management interventions. If a critical threshold is exceeded, dunes are unable to sustain themselves. There are many places in Cape Town where this threshold has been exceeded and as such require management interventions, such as along the Blouberg coastline. Management interventions however have other knock-on effects which become difficult to control.
Historical inappropriate planning decisions, a dynamic and high energy coastline as well as the expected impacts of climate change is set to increase the City’s coastal risk profile.
The biggest challenge is addressing infrastructure that is currently at risk to coastal processes. Key to this challenge is sourcing funds for engineering interventions to protect property. Determining the most appropriate solution to such a problem requires sensitive navigation through a variety of stakeholder interests. Alternatively, if no decisions are made and if we carry on as ‘business as usual’’ we could be compounding the situation. As a means to avoid these scenarios into the future, the City is in the process of developing a coastal set-back line. The intent of this setback line is to more effectively shape decisions relating to coastal development and thus prevent these problems from recurring and increasing into the future. Key to this is retaining existing coastal open spaces and ecosystems and ensuring that we benefit from the services these open spaces and ecosystems provide.
A multi-disciplinary approach has been used to define the City’s set-back. This approach has been applied as there are a host of socio-economic and environmental issues that must be considered in defining set-backs. The adoption of a set-back is also in line with the requirement of the Integrated Coastal Management Act. Every attempt is being made to develop regulatory mechanisms, such as a set-back, which are simple and practical. This is necessary as the coast is a very complex legislative space.
Cllr Burnett appealed for the City to make the case for setbacks as strong as possible. The decisions of the City made 50 years ago have changed the environment. There is a need for a balance between responsibility for sustainable development vs socio-economic demands.
The City wants a by law to strengthen the City’s ability to act against offenders. Athough the ICM Act is applicable, a new by law would enable the City to more effectively address some of the issues.
John Green mentioned that four years ago, the two most threatened areas were Strand and Muizenberg corner. The biggest challenge is dealing with existing infrastructure at risk from storm surges. The City is also investigating the feasibility of applying overlay zones to more effectively manage these areas and may require the formulation of specific conditions to reduce the risk profile - these conditions may include compulsory building codes.
John Green also asked if anything was being done to build up a greater dune system to protect against storm surges. DC responded the set back would be used to more effectively manage remaining dune cordons.
Martin Thompson added at the end that flood-proofing is becoming a requirement and developers have to develop in a certain way to limit damage. He then thanked DC for his comprehensive presentation.

6. CONSTANTIA PROPERTY, LAND RESTITUTION – Ann Coltham (NB not signed attendance register)
Ann had not arrived at this point – and the meeting continued. After Mandy Noffke’s presentation, by when she had arrived, Ann offered to hold her presentation over until the next meeting so that the agenda could continue as planned, as time was running short.

7. ZANDVLEI ESTUARY MANAGEMENT FORUM – Sandy Fowkes
Lynn Jackson, who was scheduled to present, was unable to attend and Sandy Fowkes, the current ZEMF Chairman, very kindly agreed to do so in her place.
ZEMF was established in April 2012, with a management plan, and representation from City, Province and a number of private civic organisations – meets on a quarterly basis unless there is an urgent need. Sandy is the Chairman and Ken Findlay is Vice Chair. They recognised that there were certain areas that need attention and four working groups were formed – water quality and quantity; fishing; pondweed management; tourism, commerce and recreation. The working groups submit recommendations and these go through to the Estuary Management Authority – in essence, the City.
There have been two major issues in the last year – fish die off in April and pondweed management. In regard to fish die-off, the desk-top research done by Candice Haskins has provided a very useful set of assumptions as to how we should go forward with monitoring changes. There are 2 potential stable states for the vlei – macrophyte- dominated and algal-dominated. The latter is most undesirable. A revised harvesting / cutting protocol will now guide pondweed management. The TWG on fishing has made various suggestions which should be incorporated into a new Vlei by law. With regard to hydro-dynamics and water control – an emergency plan and contingency protocol have been established. Proposals and recommendations on studies of nutrient levels, a survey of toxic contaminants and coral worm have been put forward.
An important current issue is the legal status of the Forum. The ICM Act is supposedly the enabling legislation for Estuary Management Forums. It is unlikely that there will be a legal status conferred under this act or its Estuary management protocol any time soon. The Forum is still “finding its legal status feet” and may have to become an Advisory body in terms of the Protected Areas Act once the City has registered all its nature reserves.
Future priorities include :

  •  To resolve legal status – in order to receive and disburse funds; also to manage the risks of the people involved within the legal structure; and to get clarity about what legal means will be available to enforce the estuary management authority to perform its duties according to the legal stipulations;

  • Communication – with the range of interested and affected parties;

  • Disciplined documentation management – version control – signatory powers, storage etc.

  • Data gathering and interpretation by the City as well as by citizen environmental observers for monitoring – there is still a lot that is not understood and why things change – use citizen scientists to report for example, algal blooms;

  • Find a budget after the consultancy period ends in early 2013.

Josh Gericke reported a sudden re-growth of pondweed in some of the Marina canals. There was little pondweed when the algal bloom happened and now regrowth is starting. Gavin Lawson responded that similar cycles have happened before in Zandvlei.
Mandy enquired in regard to the monitoring of the Envivironmental Management Plan – is it being followed or modified? Sandy responded that this is an appropriate function of ZEMF however, the EMP was completed two years ago and by definition things change. That is why an important function is monitoring as well as developing a better understanding of the systems. Gavin added that the document is a living document and must be reviewed after five years.

8. SOURCE TO SEA : Mandy Noffke
Mandy started by saying that she wished to make her presentation an open discussion. It has been some time since the process to come up with an Implementation Strategy for the Source-to-Sea vision was re-visited. She then recapped the process that was undertaken to establish an ecological base line for the SRC in the 10 sub-catchment areas.
This process was undertaken at an expert workshop and it started with an investigation into biodiversity - aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity – and included social issues which revolved mainly around recreational use and heritage value. All the information was collated and each sub-catchment was rated according to its importance in each of these focus areas. Focussing on the different areas of importance (biodiversity and social), Zandvlei emerged as the most important sub-catchment from a biodiversity perspective. This information is already being taken into account on the new EMP, and therefore the focus will not be on Zandvlei but on the upper catchments which feed into Zandvlei.
Mandy presented the synthesis of the data collected in a Matrix Table which indicates biodiversity hotspots, leopard toad sites, social issues and water quality and quantity for each individual sub-catchment. 
In summary the main items that that Matrix points to is the following:

  • Water quantity (including abstraction /flooding / clearing of plantations) is not a major issue in the Sand and will therefore not form one of the major focus areas. She cautioned that the SRCF should hold a watching brief over this aspect in order to pick up any future issues that might arise as plantations are cleared for example.

  • Water quality key findings

  • farming could affect water quality but it is difficult to quantify. Water pollution from industry and informal housing is problematic in Westlake & in the Lower Diep Catchment.

  • Sewage overflows from Pollsmoor dam do occur as does run off from golf courses (John Green noted that Westlake Golf Course is being watered with effluent water);

  • horse riding and stabling increase nutrient loading, but again this is difficult to quantify

 Actions

  • long term : try to solve backyard dwellers’ issues and investigate incentives to encourage more ecological farming practice

  • medium term : artificial wetlands at informal housing ; enforce early detection systems for overflows at Pollsmoor; rehabilitation of Kirstenhof wetlands by filtering through reed beds – this is the biggest opportunity.

  • short term : monitor plantation clearing process.

Discussion:

When asked by John Green what the biggest opportunity should be if funds were available, Mandy responded that it would be to rehabilitate the Kirstenhof wetlands. Suretha suggested the duck pond banks at Kirstenhof to improve the water quality, but acknowledged that it is better to look at the overall picture before undertaking isolated projects. Talcott said that there are some opportunities for funding for certain projects and he can make machines available to assist.

In conclusion, main focus areas will be established in each sub-catchment area taking into account threats – security – environmental education value and history etc.
Where to from here : This is the challenge. The question is how to best manage the collective resources and come up with an implementation plan for the greater good of the whole catchment area. It was suggested that a workshop be set up to see what could be done to move forward and work out how this will be done. This Working Group will meet on a regular basis (still to be determined) and will report back to the SRCF regularly on progress.
Brian Ratcliffe advised that he and James Rawling had a project waiting desperately for action to do with some clearing! Cllr Burnett emphasised the need to get the farms on board. MT has tried in the past and will continue to do so.
Action : MT will ask his GIS expert to send through the new boundaries of the wards.
Wayne Steyn stressed the importance of a group plan beforehand and each City department being aware of this plan so that there can be input from all. If there are overlapping areas, involve all when planning.

9. TRACKS OF GIANTS – Ian McCallum (NB not signed attendance register)
Ian presented on his recent four plus months expedition through six southern African countries by bicycle, foot and kayak – showing slides of the journey and highlighting the conservation issues that arose from their interviews and interactions.

10. NEXT MEETING
The next meeting will be held on 26th February 2013 at 09:30 at the Cape Research Centre.

                                                                                                                                               

Top of page  Back  Home