Zandvlei Trust

SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM

Minutes of the meeting held on: Monday 24th November 2008 at 13h30 at the Alphen Council Chambers

Present

Martin Thompson: (Chairman) :                   CofCT Roads & Stormwater
Virgil Jacobs :                                           WFW
George Davis :                                          SANBI
Sharon. McCallum : (Secretary minutes)     ZVT
Gavin Lawson :                                         ZVT
Cherry Giljam :                                          ZVT/Friends of Park Island
Suretha Dorse :                                         CofCT ERM
Jean Fillis :                                               Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
Louise Kinrade :                                        Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
Farrel Smith :                                            CofCT ERM
John Green :                                             Wessa & Friends of Tokai Forest
Joan Heming :                                           Constantia POA
Liz Brunette :                                             Constantia Hills Res. Ass
Brian Ratcliffe :                                          FOCVGB
Candice Haskins:                                       CofCT  CSRM
Dennis Davey :                                           Friends of Die Oog
James Forsyth :                                         FOCVGH
Mandy Noffke :                                          Wetland Solutions
Talcott Persent :                                        CofCT Roads & Stormwater

Apologies

Leighan Mossop:                                        Table Mountain National Park
Chris Beattie:                                             Keyser River Partnership

 

1. WELCOME/ APOLOGIES & ATTENDANCE REGISTER
Martin Thompson, as Chairman, welcomed all to the meeting and handed out copies of the agenda.

2. APPROVAL OF THE PREVIOUS MINUTES
Subject to noting that :
a) Joan Heming’s name was incorrectly spelt; and
b) Brian Ratcliffe’s email address was wrong;
(both of which have been corrected) the previous minutes were approved.

3. ACTION ITEMS FROM LAST MINUTES
Item 5. – Martin did invite Lars Maack who is the CEO of the Constantia Valley Wine Route but received no response. John Green suggested Neil MacGregor an environmentalist with that organization.
Action : Martin will try and get Lars Maack to nominate someone from that group to attend our meetings

Action at foot of page 3 : Martin advised that if different clearing activities were required, himself or Talcott Persent should be advised and they would take the matter up internally to see if amendments need to be made to the guidelines. Joan Heming referred to the Ninham Shand report and suggested components of that be used for guidance.

Item 6 : Suretha advised that once the final product of the Rivers Brochure is available, the Institute of Landscape Architects will be contacted.

4. ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO BE PLACED ON AGENDA

11.4 Erf 3355 – added to agenda

5. WATER QUALITY : Presentation by Candice Haskins.
Candice gave a report on what the water quality findings in the catchment during the past few years. It is a large catchment area and some sample areas were not reported on – just the main wetland areas. There are sampling points on a number of rivers and in water bodies. For the purpose of the presentation, her focus was the wetlands which is where the rivers end up.

Die Oog – the condition of this water body appears to have improved over the last few years. Dredging was undertaken in 2004 to remove sediment that was nutrient enriched and which was food for the algae. The following year, fish were removed and with the good rains of the last 2 years, there has been good flushing. Recently a lot of duckweed (a small floating plant) was noted – this shades the water surface may have contributed to the decline in algae. It is possible that there is now competition between algae and other plants for nutrients. However, it is important to keep a watch for any change – there are still a lot of nutrients in the water and it is possible that algal dominance may recur. Faecal coliforms counts are fairly high probably due to droppings from resident birds and the heronry. It should be remembered that this waterbody is not used for human recreation but is a bird sanctuary.

Little Princessvlei – has relatively little algae although there are peaks during summer. Also has a lot of aquatic plants competing for nutrients. The southern portion appears to be more polluted than the northern portion and the two portions are considered separate hydrologically. Inorganic nitrogen shows strong seasonal cycles. Overall mesotrophic = moderate levels of productivity with a moderate nutrient level. Bacterial levels in Diep River increasing which is also reflected in the southern portion of LP where DR flows in. No data available for the northern section. John Green asked if the upward trend was significant to which Candice responded that there is always a seasonal peaks but there does also appear to be a long term increase.

Langevlei – Retreat – sample at inlet and southern outlet where it flows into an underground culvert. At the inflow there is high phosphorus. There are not many aquatic plants – but it is blue/green algae that is most dominant in this body. The whole system is considered eutrophic. John Green asked whether protective action should be taken, e.g. more plants introduced. Unfortunately the banks are very abrupt and the abundance of Egyptian geese adds to the nutrients. Sources of Phosphorus include faecal deposits, soap, detergents, fertilisers. Bacterial levels are quite high at inlet and slightly lower further into the water – but trending upwards.

Zandvlei - chlorophyll quite lower with cyclical peaks and troughs and also probably because of salt inflow from sea and regular flushing helps move nutrients. Inorganic nitrogen levels are seasonal and assisted by the well managed mouth with flushing that disperses nutrients. Mesotrophic overall. There are a number of sewerage stations around with some faecal pollution in the Sand River as opposed to the others which may only have occasional leaks. However to get better results, it is necessary to go out into the middle of the vlei which is not possible at the moment.
Cherry Giljam reported water bubbling under the tarmac in Albertyn Road near Zandvlei.
Action : Martin Thompson to investigate.

Westlake Wetlands – slightly higher chlorophyll levels than Zandvlei – probably because it is not affected quite so much by the saline inflow. Lot of marginal vegetation such as reeds and algae and quite well balanced. Moderately nutrient enriched. A question was asked whether there water quality could be a reflection of the water from upstream – however there is only one sample point at the moment.
Louise Kinrade reported that a portion of the wetlands in the Kirstenhof area near the children’s playground at the Valentino Road 90 degree bend – has a bad smell which becomes particularly smelly in winter.

Congratulations from all to Candice for an excellent presentation.

John Green asked if more sampling points could be set up as there is no longer one at Pollsmoor. Apparently it all depends on the budget.

It was suggested that in the Wetlands Forum consideration be given to plants being introduced for functionality rather than just decoration.

Joan Heming said that it should be illegal for people to empty their fish ponds or aquariums into water bodies. Nurseries and pet shops should be advised that it is not the right thing to do.

6. IMPACTS OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Martin Thompson displayed two draft policies which have been open for comment until the end of this week – they deal with water quality and the impacts of storm water run off in an urban development.  Candice presented on these policies that highlight that water quality deteriorates as a function of urban runoff from impervious areas and compacted soils in the urban areas. The aim is to bring about water sensitive urban designs and sustainable urban drainage systems – best management practice – to protect the natural features and processes and to maintain the natural hydrology. The draft policies tend towards minimizing impact of storm water from urban areas onto receiving waters.

Dennis Davey asked if it was the policy of City to increase densification. Martin answered that that it was in certain areas. City would prefer vertical densification to horizontal in order to reduce impervious coverage. He added that the draft policies stem from the IDP and are to reduce the impact of flooding and to safeguard human health and natural aquatic systems.

Mandy asked about the attitude towards historical developments – Martin said there is provision for retro-fitting but it is difficult and expensive but it has been allowed for.

George asked if the models for best practice are from global sources. Martin said that they are – US and Australia had been looked at extensively and the Australian model was found to be particularly valuable as they have similar climates to our own.

Jean asked about fast flowing rivers and run off into aquifers below. Candice advised that in the policy storm water is controlled in terms of quantity, quality and that recharge of ground water where appropriate is encouraged.

On the point of aquifers, Cherry reminded the meeting that Joan had previously expressed concern about the number of boreholes and wells and wondered whether these are being recorded. She said we always look at what is happening on the surface and sometimes forget to consider what happens underground and there are so many more boreholes and well points.

George said that the Wetlands Forum have decided to have a ground water session next year to monitor this aspect.
Action : George to supply details of Dirk Versveld of DWAF to Martin

7. WORKING FOR WETLANDS PROGRAMME
Virgil Jacobs presented on the 2009/2010 programme which will be starting in April 2009 – which consists mostly of alien clearing. Most of the projects are in their third year, with a few in the second year and one new site. He showed some slides of various projects in different stages of their project including Noordhoek, Raapenberg, Bush of Evil and Langevlei.

8. RIVER INSPECTIONS

8.1. REPORT BACK
Farrell circulated a report and requested all who attended the last river inspection to check it out and come back to him with comments for changes/errors by the 15th December 2008. He will then make the necessary changes and send the final report electronically to all members.
Gavin will circulate some photographs taken at the walk.
Action : All – review report and comment back to Farrell before 15/12/2008.

8.2. POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES CO-ORDINATION
James Forsyth did a short presentation on the way forward after the Grootboschkloof walk. He said that he had walked it five times with 5 different organizations and was wondering how best to move forward. The problems with the gabion weirs that need repair have been highlighted – how to get the problems attended to. There is also a need for retention ponds, alien clearing and bank shaping and sewers need checking for leaks. His concern is “what happens next” and who takes the matter forward. Some kind of management plan is needed. JG feels that it is the community’s responsibility to take the matter to City – and he will, with FOCVGB, try and quantify what is required and put a plan together, and then arrange to speak to Talcott to plan ahead.

8.3. NEXT RIVER INSPECTION
It was decided that the next walk will be upstream of Orpen Road near the stone Church – Wednesday 21st January 2009 at 9.30 am – to meet at the stone Church.
Action : Martin to send out emails to confirm

9. SOURCE TO SEA 
Mandy gave a brief summary of the project and a presentation on what had happened since the inaugural meeting. The catchment area has been divided into regions and opportunities and restraints in each area are to be considered – looking at information on path quality, gates, accessibility, maintenance, suitability of different activities – and then access to funding will have to be found – the aim being that eventually we have a path/route from Princesskasteel to Princessvlei creating a social and biodiversity corridor. The new map designating the different regions gives us a basis from which to determine which organizations are involved in each area. Mandy will send a draft document giving the background and anyone who wishes to comment should do so. Also a list of concerned people and contacts will be circulated.
Action : Farrell to remind Joy to let Mandy have a list of Ward Councillors.

10. PAMPHLET - RIVERS IN OUR BACKYARDS
The final copy of the Rivers in our Backyards was made available for comment. In an effort to have a final product by Wetlands Day, 2 February 2009, Suretha requested all comments to be submitted by 13 December 2008.
Action : all to note date for comments.

11. GENERAL

11.1 Dumping on Erf 3346
On 23 November 2008 it was confirmed with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning: Law Enforcement that the case is currently with their Director in order determine the correct legal procedure and way forward. The intention was to issue to the Department of Public Works with a Directive and the case is currently receiving attention.

11.2 Wine Farms
See under Action items for comment re finding a representative from the Constantia Valley Wine Growers Association to attend the meetings.

11.3 Friends Groups
Friends of Kirstenhof reported on a number of activities in their newly formed group – had inspection walks, watching for bugs, met with Talcott regarding gabion repair.

11.4 Erf 3355
There is some concern about development on this property which contains a vital wetland. Brian Ratcliffe advised that there appears to be a perception that the City does not want the land ceded.
Martin responded that at a recent meeting this matter had been discussed and the City is in agreement that if they can get the property, they will go for it.
Joan Heming said that it is important that caution is exercised in any trade-offs in granting approvals. No wetland map had been seen as yet – Candice says that the City has mapped all the wetlands but these cannot be used as exactly accurate to determine boundaries but will give a good indication of layout and position.
Action : Martin Thompson / Candice Haskins will supply map to those concerned.

James enquired about who making the rules and regulations if wetlands are privately owned. Suretha advised that there may be conditions imposed in any approval but they are difficult to enforce. The developer would have to adhere to any approved management plan.

Some history on the area – the old Div. Council had a dream of a continuous walkway along the rivers and the property was rezoned with the intention of later acquiring it. Div. Council disappeared and now there is no money. Martin added that in terms of the new constitution, land is now acquired by the City in a different manner. It was agreed by all that each department in City must view this development in its entirety – not narrowly – as it is such an important piece of land.
Action : Martin / Suretha to meet with planners and draw their attention to the importance of these wetlands.

It would appear that the developer got a waiver from Province in regard to obtaining an environmental impact assessment

Liz wondered whether there are conditions for developments that relate to storm water run off into a river.

11.5 Gavin expressed his concern about the filing and retaining of the documents and presentations that have been created since the SRCF has been active again. He has some ideas and it was suggested that this become an agenda item for the next meeting.
Action : Martin please to put on agenda

12. NEXT MEETING

Monday 23rd February 2009 at 13h30 at the Alphen Chambers


                                                                                                                                           

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