Zandvlei Trust

SAND RIVER CATCHMENT FORUM

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 27th Sept 2010 at 13h30 at the Alphen Council Chambers.

Present
Martin Thompson  :           CCT Roads & Stormwater  
(Chairman)
Candice Haskins :            CCT - CSRM
Leighan Mossop :             TMNP
Jean Fillis :                      Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
Louise Kinrade :               Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands
John Green :                    WESSA & Friends of Tokai Forest
Lynn Jackson:                  CEC         
Gavin Lawson :                 ZVT
James Forsyth:                FCVGB
Mandy Noffke :                 Wetland Solutions 
Dennis Davey :                 Friends of Die Oog
Sharon McCallum :           ZVT                    (Minutes Secretary)
Brian Ratcliffe :                 FOCVGB
Melissa Tang :                 CCT Water Pollution Control
Mike Mulder :                   CCT Water Pollution Control

Apologies
Erica Hobbs :                   Friends of Kirstenhof Wetlands

As per the attendence register.

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
Other than correcting Dennis Davey’s name (not Denis Davies) in 11.2 on page 6, there were no other changes made to the minutes of the previous meeting.

3. Action items from the last Minutes
    None.

4. Additional Items Under General 
10.1 James F - add and signs to his presentation under this item.
10.2 Added - Gavin said he would say something about Karin Watkins from Constantia Bulletin.
10.3 Brian Ratcliff asked for silting to be added to the agenda
10.4 Steenberg Shopping Centre - which Martin said would be addressed by Mike Mulder.

5. Zandvlei Estuary Management Plan - Progress to Date - Lynn Jackson
Since the last SRCF meeting on 19th July, the public meeting and first technical working group (TWG) meetings had been held. It is hoped that the management plan will be out by the end of this year.
Priority issues to be addressed have been identified as;

  • Water level management - manipulation of the mouth of the estuary

  • Salinity levels and the consequence on estuarine biota

  • Water quality

  • Streamlining of monitoring programmes

  • Management of pondweed and alien invasive plants

  • Balancing biodiversity and ecosystem needs with urban and recreational needs

  • Improved coordination between authorities - different departments of City and national Government departments.

A number of TWGs have been formed which are participatory with membership comprising the relevant officials, experts and representatives of local organizations. These are;

  • Hydrodynamics

  • Water quality and monitoring

  • Pondweed and invasive alien species (IAS)

  • Conservation and planning

  • Education and communication

The task of these groups is to develop operational objectives, e.g. how, when and by whom within time frames, monitoring and measuring progress towards achieving targets. The recommendations of the working groups will form the basis of an action plan. Most of the TWGs will meet again in mid-October and maybe for a third time in November, depending on the issues.

Some preliminary objectives have been tabled - but Lynn stressed that at this stage they are still preliminary. These include;

Hydrodynamics TWG

  • Salinity – do nothing until the fish results are in

  • Opening mouth

  • Water levels

  • Improve flushing

  • Restore communities of birds, fish and other biota

Interventions – medium to long term;

  • relocate the sewer and remove weir - will be very expensive

  • repair and operate weir on central pan to encourage waders - has not been working for some years

  • detailed aquatic and semi-aquatic vegetation survey - an indication of water health

  • install permanent salinity recorders to give a better picture of what happens when mouth is open or closed

Water quality - operational objectives set for a variety of parameters including salinity, nitrogen etc. based on certain guidelines.

Interventions - catchment management - establish whether activities proposed for catchment are likely to have impact on water quality - liaise with Department of Agriculture to try and reduce nutrient input and silt from the agricultural sector - perhaps to increase setback lines.
John Green mentioned that the contour lines of certain vineyards were incorrect and asked if anything could be done about this. Lynn said this will be taken up with the relevant people.

Other preliminary interventions include;

  • improve housekeeping of local industries and big shopping centres to ensure better methods of dealing with huge amount of waste and washing out of bins;

  • reactivate the Keysers river partnership

  • need for toxic contaminants - there has been no study

  • education and awareness raising

  • water quality monitoring programmes

Pondweed and IAS
Operational objectives include;

  • guidelines for managing pondweed came out in 1999 - some were implemented and some not - try to follow in the future;

  • proposal to transfer management of pondweed to Nature Department of City to obtain improved logistics and working conditions e..g. downtime of pondweed harvester;

  • IAS - City’s Integrated Metropolitan Environmental Policy targets are ambitious e.g. eradication of all guttural toads by 2014. New IAS regulations will require each Nature Reserve to have its own management plan.

Interventions

  • partnerships with Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, and more

  • pilot phase will be an aquatic weed management plan

  • awareness raising

  • IAS management plan

Conservation and Planning TWG
Measures and interventions include;

  • CWAC (coordinated waterfowl annual census) and other bird data to be consolidated and analysed. These have been done in a number of different places around the country including Zandvlei. There is much data but there has been no analysis neither has the data been linked to environmental parameters.

  • There is very limited information about some of the biotic groups – future surveys could be done by students.

  • Would need some protocols for conformity

  • Development of a weather station

  • Consolidation of information on the biodiversity database. This may need to be restructured as apparently it is not easy to navigate.

  • Rehabilitation of certain areas and inclusion of some new areas within the boundaries of the Reserve

  • Keep a watching brief on developments in the area - especially the link between the M4 and M5 motorways.

  • Zonation map to try and manage the needs of human activities within the Reserve and to balance these with biodiversity requirements.

Education & Communication TWG
Operational targets;

  • increase the numbers of schools visiting the Nature Reserve on a regular basis to try and get more active environmental clubs.

Interventions

  • upgrade education centre - this is currently being done internally by the three Nature Reserve staff - it could attract many more visitors - keen to have overnight camp facilities

  • alternative sites for camping and other environmental activities

  • external funding e.g. Lotteries - CTEET, Public Works

  • community outreach - try and target specific organizations in the more difficult communities

  • involve people of the communities with monitoring programmes, e.g. spotters of new species

  • communication materials - focus on more permanent materials e.g. notice boards or posters and websites rather than leaflets

6. Aquatic Aliens Management Programme - Mandy Noffke

They have been looking at the data collected thus far and evaluated that against a set of criteria to select a pilot catchment area. Mandy will email this to Gavin who will put on the Zandvlei website. They initially were going to focus on 6 species but this list grew to 13. The distribution of these species was mapped across the City and the criteria for selection of a pilot area was decided which had a quantitative and qualitative approach. The highest number of species were in the Diep, Salt and Sand areas. The pilot management plan would like to focus on an area that has a variety of aquatic weed species - so that a variety of management techniques can be tested.
The preliminary short list as a pilot study included : Sand River, Diep River, Zeekoei but with a reservation about its ability to rehabilitate; and Salt River where the Water quality is a problem. Then looking at a number of criteria in detail, a final short-list contest between the Sand and Diep - it was eventually decided that the Sand River Catchment will be the pilot catchment area!!!

Way forward includes the selection of a sub-catchment/pilot area within the Sand River Catchment - selection will be undertaken with a smaller group of stakeholders within the catchment in consultation with City Officials - criteria utilised will include:

  • rehab potential;

  • status of the actual waterbodies

  • presence of emerging weeds;

  • previous work done,

  • lessons learnt,

  • current projects already underway;

  • water quality

Then to groundtruth the area and to prioritise where the worst infestations are found – the Keyers/Zandvlei and Westlake. A management plan will be drawn up which should be ready for the end of the year and will feed into Lynn Jackson’s estuary management plan. These two processes will need to dovetail together.

John Green asked about the Soetvlei area which falls under Province. Mandy responded that what was found is not so bad but the problem is the prison area. Partnerships and community involvement will be required.

Mandy also reported that the Keysers River Partnership project, which was initiated between City and local businesses some 7 - 8 years ago, was currently not working although it had been successful for many years. One of the biggest challenges was awareness raising. There are still instances of dumping of rubble and tyres. There had been a grand plan of opening up back fences onto the river but security issues stopped this. Many businesses were on board for some years - some annually and some occasionally. There had been a change of ownership for some businesses and at the beginning of this year, there was no more money in the budget. Patrick Dowling (of WESSA) and Mandy put together a proposal of what they would like to achieve, e.g. path maintenance, raising awareness, code of conduct - in order to try and get buy in from some of the businesses along the river and get the partnership working again. The proposal was distributed with only one response from Gabriel Shock Absorbers who contributed an initial RK35. They are going to try and get City to match that or to provide up to RK50

ACTION : Mandy to write a piece about this and Gavin will promote on the website.

7. Funding Proposals (various) - Mandy Noffke

James Forsyth and Mandy have been working together to raise funds for various projects within the catchment looking at the Source to Sea project. A proposal has been put to Table Mountain Fund who have responded to the effect that they like the concept and will likely give R50 000.00. This initial funding will be to establish an action committee / task team in order to obtain a higher institutional level buy-in towards Source to Sea. (Ideally this should be a sub-committee of the SRCF). The money can be used to fund a roadshow to promote the project. City, Sanparks, PWD, Province all need to be contacted and persuaded to come on board. Mandy will be meeting with Onno Huyse to clarify TMF’s requirements and will then submit a fresh proposal.

Over & above this Mandy and James have submitted proposals to the City of Cape Town for a further RK105 for implementation in the Constantia Greenbelt system. RK40 for rehabilitation for the Westlake School site on the upper Westlake River has already been granted to WESSA.

ACTION: All who have received funding or have applied for new funding, from any source, to email Mandy of details and she will prepare a summary.

8. Table Mountain National Park - Update on various activities/programmes - Leighan Mossop

  • upgrade of lower Tokai walkways : a 4km walkway around the outside of the plantation at a cost of R830 000.00. Some of the cost will be covered by Pedal Power Association with most coming from Sanparks. 600 metres has been completed thus far. Another team has started at the bottom corner of the Park with a short boardwalk linking into City land. A proposal has been put to City to remove the fence along Orpen Road . James Forsyth had proposed that the fence be removed entirely as it eventually leads into the green belt but there had been resistance to this. Leighan added that a further 4 km is planned for routes between the rehabilitated fynbos and the transition plantation area.

  • Shade trees project - the indigenous tree species list has been finalized and a company in Paarl will donate 1000 trees. The first tree planting will be on 23rd October, but they will not all be planted on one day.

  • Upgrade of Tokai picnic area : the basic assessment report is available for perusal - the number of braai spots is to be increased to 262. The degraded infrastructure - toilets and ablutions and bins - to be upgraded. The shaded landscape will be retained but some new trees will have to be planted. Critically endangered fynbos will be resuscitated. The peak traffic congestion will be alleviated and they will establish a riverine biodiversity corridor along the river. An open meeting had been held and the closing date for comments is 10th October. They have a linked with Working for Wetlands to recreate wetlands next to the picnic site by redirecting the flow of an old channel shown on the map. Mandy commented that perhaps consideration should be given to changing the proposed wetland area towards the old remnant wetlands rather than creating a new different wetland.

  • Tokai Manor is occupied by Sanparks on a short term lease.

  • Soetvlei Wetlands - waiting for a letter from Province but in the meantime are doing some alien clearing. A circular footpath on the outskirt is planned.

John Green asked about the area where the stables are in Porter Estates which could be a possible corridor under Sanparks Management. Leighan responded that Sanparks will not be taking over Porter Estate - she will check what is to happen to the corridor. John Green said this is a vitally important area.

According to the planning schedule, some places still have to be cleared - 30 gum trees to be felled along the river. 7.5 ha of the old plantation is due for felling in the next phase.

Chris Botes is the contact person in regard to tree felling and general management -  021 712 7471 or chrisb@sanparks.org.

Sandra Hollerman - person to contact for footpaths and shade planting - 021 789 2460 or sandrah@sanparks.org

For the picnic site upgrade, contact person is Nick Steytler of Khula Environmental Consultants - 082 322 4074 - nicksteytler@telkomsa.net 

9. Friends Groups Update
9.1. Die Oog - Dennis reported that in terms of a recently signed MOU, Die Oog has been designated a conservation area falling under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department of City. This has formalized the relationship with quarterly meetings which is working well. There is no place for the Friends officially but he draws the agenda and drives the meeting.

The whole of Die Oog is covered with aquatic weed and the weed cutter is to be borrowed from Zandvlei to clear and remove it.

Last November there was a major roosting on the island but there has been none this year. The island is to be cleared and the guana is to be removed whereafter the island will be replanted.

The automatic closing mechanism of the gate had been stolen.

The toads are back. They had picked up to 300 on the road and tadpoles have been spotted.

There AGM is on the 27th October at which Peter Steyn will be talking on owls.

9.2. James Forsyth : Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelt - He said that his was a project driven organization - the various projects being:

Source to Sea - which has the following aspects

  • the dead bridge to Peddlars on the Bend

  • old cycle track to Westridge Circle

  • Stark Ayres to Bonnyridge Bridge - there is a problem with the many poplar trees which are impenetrable

  • Bonnyridge to Peddlars - need to get the pathways reinstated - they have lost about 2 ha to spaanseriet (Spanish reed)

  • They are seeking a meeting with the City to understand their problems.

Alphen Trail and Klaasenbosch

  • demolishing the old dam

  • planned laterite wheelchair path from Le Seuer Avenue – a consultant advised them of the requirements

  • planned new bridge - ward allocation of R60 000.00 connecting two river banks

  • clearing invasive plants along the river banks

  • need horse proof boardwalk which is expensive as it needs a rail to orientate the horses

  • need a site meeting regarding erosion at Spilhaus

  • having regular meetings with Parks - these have shown that there is a need to clarify which department is responsible for which duties

Silverhurst Trail

Water is free of weeds and is clear - well done to the City.

De Hel

  • 24 days spent clearing alien infestation of Southern Cross drive - the meadow is to be cleared by Parks.

Doordrift

  • access to the trail - collaboration between Friends and City - Friends have paid for the bollards and City will install. Entrances to trails will be given priority.

Budgets

Ward 62  Allocated RK66 for boardwalks and RK38 for alien removal on the Diep River trail.
Ward 71 - received RK50 for alien removal.

9.3. Zandvlei Trust - Sharon reported on the various activities of ZVT which include:

  • an environmental education project with Alice Ashwell and Sharon taking youngsters from Vrygrond Library to the Nature Reserve during the long winter holidays - two groups were taken twice and it was enjoyed by all – pictures on the website

  • Alice and Sharon had taken another group from Vrygrond Library - this time sponsored by Safer Together - to Park Island for environmental education during the short September holiday.

  • A very successful fundraising event at the Masque Theatre raised more than R6000 to assist schools who wish to visit the Reserve for EE with transport

  • ZVT will be participating as usual in the Kite Festival in late October which has an environmental theme this year

  • ZVT will also be hosting a clearing and hacking project for Do It Day, run under the auspices of Greater Good South Africa - which ZVT has joined as a “cause”.

  • ZVT were awarded RK30 from the Ward allocation for alien clearing and indigenous planting to establish vegetative biodiversity corridors.

9.4. Friends of Kirstenhof - Jean Fillis reported with photos of what their members have been doing.

  • They have planted 21 milkwood trees. Also Cape Beech and Red Pear trees. 

  • They made and installed 10 plastic bag dispensers for dog poo. All of these from donated materials from various local businesses. Unfortunately 5 have already been vandalised. Jean is trying to get dedicated dog poo bins installed.

  • On Mandela Day the group did 85 hours of work clearing litter along the Westlake River.

  • They have had information signage installed along the pathways.

  • The 4 gardens of indigenous plants at the WESSA site are flourishing and all present complimented the achievements.

10. GENERAL

10.1. Mapping of Trails & Signs - James Forsyth
James Forsyth explained the history of the brochure of the walking trails and how it has had to be updated. It became apparent that much more integrated maps with adjoining trails on the mountain with road and pavement linkages have to be incorporated as well. The project needs to be in digital format and also should incorporate City and Provincial and SANParks rivers, vegetation, roads, trail pathways. The format should be GIS, so that layers of appropriate information can be generated for the final outcome, which may be a printed Z fold brochure and be available for the internet. The project is far larger than first imagined it needs sponsors and James will take the project to the local wine farms and hotels for their possible participation. He will also approach Pauline van der Spuy from City - Tourism for funding and inclusion in the marketing of Constantia Valley.
The map will have to be a living document, as it would need to be updated in the future. The question posed was - Who would retain and be the custodian of the original information? Various role players still need to be consulted and issues resolved.
A suggestion that the map be put on the City website was put forward as the central location for potential internet users.

James showed us pictures of signage along the trails with dedicated node and hub numbers, so people could clearly identify where they were on a trail, if they required help from any rescue or law enforcement agency. James was congratulated for the very valuable work he and FOCVG is doing.

10.2 Karin Watkins, journalist with the Constantia Bulletin was phoned by Gavin Lawson on behalf of the SRCF to explain the reasons for not receiving the agenda to this meeting. It was explained that some people were reluctant to disclose and or discuss some issues with the "Press" present. It is felt that this inhibiting factor is not beneficial to the spirit of the Forum. She understood the sentiment and accepted the explanation and reason. She did ask that it be recorded that she would like to attend the Forum meetings. Gavin undertook to pass on any interesting articles or information which may come from the Forum to Karin for publication.

10.3. De Hel and the Silverhurst dam - Brian Ratcliffe reported the silting of the Spaanschemat River. He is concerned that the new wine farms are contributing to this problem with little regard for good farming practise and land management. Martin explained the past dealing with the Dept of Agriculture had been unsuccessful in solving similar issues. The Dept.of A is the responsible authority for this issue.

10.4. Steenberg Shopping Centre and the Life Style Centre in Westlake Park - Mike Mulder gave the meeting feedback on the dealings with these businesses. Grease traps are being installed at restaurants where none were previously. Also modifications to washing facilities are being done, it is reported that certain contactors are not complying with the suggested requirements and this will take time to have the correct modifications implemented. It is not easy dealing with ever changing managing agents, tenant management who do not train their staff with the applicable requirements. Management is often moved or relocated after 3 or 4 months.

Steenberg Winery were found to be cleaning the mowing machines close to a Westlake River tributary stream on the southern side of their property. The run off was feeding into a stormwater system which would feed into the river.

John Green reported that there is a black plastic pipe feeding into the stream flowing out of the northern boundary of Steenberg Golf Course on Tokai Road. He has seen that the vegetation appears to be chemically burnt. He asked if Mike could check the out flow to determine if nutrients were being released into the stream.

Jean Fillis asked if any City official was checking the Westlake River at the new school building site, as the water in the river appeared to be muddy. Is the site being monitored by anyone?
Action : Mike Mulder / Melissa Tang
.

Meeting closed at 16h50.

11. NEXT MEETING

Monday, 24th January 2011 at 13h30 at the Alphen Chambers.

                                                                                                                                    

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