Zandvlei Trust

Westlake River inspection - 08 June 2010.

Martin Thompson organised a visit to Pollsmor Prison which has the Westlake River running through part of its property. The objective is to try and revive and re-establish the communication with the Prison authorities, to continue the monitoring process and to try and implement some pragmatic solutions to keeping the Westlake River in a healthy state. The water quality which arrives in Zandvlei via the Westlake and other rivers should be of an acceptable standard for all living creatures throughout the annual weather and other natural cyclic systems and conditions.

Those present were;

Mr Vos and Mr May - Pollsmor Prison,
Martin Thompson, Malcolm Cupido, Talcott Persent, Michael Mulder, Terry Schorn - City of Cape Town,
James Forsyth - Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts,
Mandy Noffke - WESSA,
Gavin Lawson - Zandvlei Trust.

 

Looking west towards the Steenberg Shopping Centre, this is where the
Westlake River crosses a causeway. Constantiaberg is in the background.
The new school is going to be built in the far distance, between the river 
and the wall on the right of the picture.

 

Our group standing on the pedestian bridge over the river. This view is
looking east from the same point in the above photo.

 

The group discussing some of the issues and going over known and long past
issues of over flows of stormwater and sewerage systems into the Westlake River.

 

Mr Vos answering some of the questions which need to be addressed. There was
a very good understanding and appreciation that the delegation were interested
in trying to solve the issues.

 

This building is where all the fresh produce is washed and cleaned, 
when it is harvested. We learnt a number of very interseting things here;
all the vegetables are grown for all the meals served in Pollsmor Prison.
They are self sufficient for this produce and any excess is distributed
to other prisons in the Western Cape. Mr May is very proud that his dept
supplies nearly all the vegetables for all the prisons in the greater metropole area.
This is a recent turn around.

 

Mr May explained how the fields are composted with on site made organic compost.
They are working away from chemical fertilizers to the more natural way of growing
the food. Very encouraging news. They can not produce enough compost yet,
but are getting there.

 

The drainage and sewerage systems were discussed in this area.

 

Then we went to look at the dam. This view looking west towards Constantiaberg.

 

Looking south towards Steenberg. There was a large presence of water birds on the dam.
The "Zandvlei Fish Eagles " often stop off at the dam we were told.

South east towards the dam wall causeway.

 

Walking along the dam wall to look at the causeway.

 

A small coffer dam or resevior behind the damwall with the outlet into the Westlake River.

 

The outlet for the waterflow into the Westlake River. Mandy is walking below
and across the low flow outlet pipe.

 

An easy solution was suggested to catch all floating debris, litter and other
water borne material in the resivior.

Then off to look at the sewerage line which had blocked and overflowed into
the dam, causing the blue green algae problem further down in the catchment.
This line is from the Westlake and Steenberg areas.

 

This is the cover which popped open and overflowed, causing a large "donga"
washaway which had to be filled and leveled.

 

Inside the manhole residue can be seen on the steps, the flow is normal below.

 

The pathway and entry point into the dam where a large amount of untreated
sewerage, overflowed into the dam.

The next inspection cover was opened, everything back to normal. Tell tale
signs to the experts are there, indicating what they already know.

Then we went to look at the stormwater outlet from the Westlake industrial area,
also on the property.

There is evidence of oils (possibly motor car or others) and litter from this source as well.

James and Mandy discussing the alien / invassive vegetation in the
water course with Mr May and Mr Vos and offering some solutions of what
can be done to improve the habitat. The suggestions were well received.

This is a small house with a separator grid to catch solids before entering
the the pumps further down the line.

New building is in progress to improve the sewerage lines also incorporating
a masserator to breakup any solids.

The group discussing and commenting on the design of the new works.

We thank the Prison  and City officials for making time available and for the cordial information exchange.
Suggestions to improve the monitoring processes and the communication between the relevant depts for a quick response in an emergency will be put into action.
We hope to carry on the exchange of ideas and learning, also for the long term action to improve all the conditions for the water quality of the Westlake River.

                                                                                                                                             

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