Zandvlei Trust

Draft minutes for the Meeting on 25 November 2013.

CAPE Estuaries Programme: Implementation of the Estuary Management Plan (EMP) for the Zandvlei Estuary, Muizenberg, Cape Town.

Minutes of the 10th Meeting of the Zandvlei Estuary Management Forum (ZEMF): 13:30, 25th November, 2013, Zandvlei Sports Club / Yacht Club.   ZEMF 10 Minutes ver A 20131126.

Summary of follow-up actions.

Action. Resposible Person. Target Date.
LJ to follow up with DEA & DP regarding the question of reporting of sewage spills. Lynn Jackson November, 2013
Contact details etc for meeting arrangements to be provided to Reserve Manager.. Lynn Jackson November, 2013
Telephone list on Contingency Plan to be amended, and then whole document to be circulated to ZEMF Members. Dalton Gibbs November, 2013
Completion of revisions to Mouth Management Protocol and submission to DEA & DP for approval. Martin Thompson/Candice Haskins December, 2013
Further lowering of the weir on a trial basis. Martin Thompson April / May – September, 2014
Initiation of discussions around EIA on Mouth Management options BMB/CSRM January 2014
Erection of permanent health warnings. Josh Gericke / Environmental Health December, 2013



1. Welcome and introductions

Participants were welcomed to the meeting by Sandra Fowkes, the Chair of the Forum. A list of participants can be found at Annex 1 and a copy of the Agenda at Annex 2.

Apologies were received from Councillor D’Alton, Candice Haskins, Garnet Prince, Muzzamiel Gamieldien, Phumla Ketani-Poort, and Ken Findlay.

Following a request from the Chair for good news, JG reported that freshwater mullet had been found in the most recent fish treks and, in general, there are large numbers of small fish in the estuary.

2. Adoption of the Minutes of the 8th ZEMF Meeting

The minutes of ZEMF 9 were adopted with one minor change. Adoption was proposed by GL, seconded by DW.

3. Matters arising from the Minutes of the 9th ZEMF Meeting.

3.1 Sewage Spills

Although the DEA & DP officials were not present, AT of the Water and Sanitation Branch reported that as far as he was aware, no meeting had been arranged. It was agreed that LJ would follow up with DEA & DP.

JG reported that there had been another sewage spill in the Sand River canal area earlier that day, but that it was not expected to have a significant impact.

SF then reported that at a recent meeting (October, 2013) of the Sand River Catchment Management Forum, it had been reported that Pollsmoor was discharging water with very high levels of E.coli into the Westlake River (in the millions of counts/100ml). There is concern that these high levels might be impacting on Zandvlei, even though it is a long way down river. This seems to be supported by the fact that the most recent monitoring results for the past few years do show an increase in E.coli levels at the north end of the estuary. Although it was unclear exactly what the nature of sewage treatment facilities are at Pollsmoor – and why there should be any discharge into the river - it was suggested that it could be due to lack of proper maintenance which is a general problem at the prison. However, it was also reported that DWA is putting pressure on PWD to correct the situation.

There was a brief discussion on the possibility of putting containment/retention dams around pump stations to prevent spills from reaching the estuary. AT indicated that containment on the surface was likely to lead to back-ups within the sewers with consequent overflows further up the line. AT also indicated that a lot of the problems arose as a result of people disposing of solid objects and rags into the sewer system.

3.2 Support for the Forum

SF reported that although there were no commitments in terms of financial support as yet, in future, arrangements and minutes for meetings of the Forum would be made by the new member of the Reserve staff. LJ agreed to provide a summary of all the relevant information.

3.3 Status of Contingency Plan

DG did not attend so this item was held over until the next meeting.

4. Mouth Management / Siltation

At the previous meeting (ZEMF 9) it was agreed that, as outlined in the paper by Andy Killick, siltation at the mouth was becoming a major issue and that:

  • monitoring of the sediments should be undertaken as soon as possible so that hard data on the sediment build-up is generated. MT agreed to organise this; and
  • Piet Huizinga – previously from CSIR – be invited to give a presentation to ZEMF reviewing outcomes of previous studies and outlining feasible options.

What then transpired was that, following attempts to make contact with Piet Huizinga, SF, in collaboration with MT, convened a small workshop on the 11th of November at the SANParks Research Centre. DW reported back on the outcomes of that workshop as follows:

Following a presentation by Piet Huizinga on the mouth dynamics of the estuary, and the impacts thereon of both the weir and the canalisation of the mouth, a number of possible solutions were put forward for discussion. These included:

  • Adjustment of the timing/frequency of breaching based on predicted wind and wave conditions;
  • Allow higher water levels (variation in water levels is currently restricted to between 0.7 and 1.4m aMSL);
  • Test effectiveness of further lowering the weir at times when good scouring can occur;
  • Re-institute periodic dredging (which was stopped in 2001 following the introduction of an EIA requirement);
  • Widen the mouth;
  • Investigate the possibility of installing some sort of water level control system for the Marina at the two relatively narrow entrances at either end of Park Island;
  • Remove the weir/sewer.

Following discussion, the following were amongst the steps agreed:

1. The weir will be lowered by another 10-20 cms during the next winter season on a trial basis (it is currently at 0.6m AMSL) with monitoring aimed at evaluating potential impacts;

2. The possibility of including periodic dredging of the mouth into the mouth management protocol and/or list of pre-approved maintenance activities by Catchment Management must be explored with DEA & DP.

3. Should periodic dredging of the channel be approved for inclusion as a maintenance activity (and thus exempt from an EIA), then such dredging should be re-instituted as soon as possible.

4. An EIA to explore longer-term solutions for mouth management should be initiated as soon as possible. Such an EIA should include:

  • The relocation of the sewer line;
  • The widening of the mouth/inlet (in the context of the anticipated collapse of the caissons on the south bank) and possible restoration to a more natural condition;
  • An assessment of potential implications of climate change/sea level rise for the management options.

Given the scope of the EIA, consideration should be given to undertaking it as a joint initiative of a number of City departments (ERMD, CSRM and Water and Sanitation). Mechanisms to facilitate this should be explored with the HODs.

MT then reported that he had already initiated:

  • the monitoring of the levels of sedimentation; and
  • changes to the Mouth Management Protocol to include dredging. This would then be submitted to DEA & DP – with a supporting letter from CapeNature – with a view to getting approval so as to be able to start dredging next summer.

The subsequent discussion included the following points:

  • Lowering the weir further could lead to the cement encasing around the sewer being exposed. However, this can be done without necessarily damaging the sewer line – in fact, it is already exposed at times. However, this needs to be carefully monitored to ensure that the sediment below the sewer is not eroded away;
  • Lowering the weir could also further damage the caissons;
  • There were questions as to how the dredging would be undertaken and a suggestion that the scouring process might be facilitated by agitating the sediments at the turning point of the tide. MT indicated that the various options would be considered and a decision taken at a later date;
  • With respect to increasing the water levels, MT indicated that the City was concerned that although there were restrictions on the construction and use of buildings below 1.85m AMSL, officials may have inadvertently approved plans which did not meet this requirement. An audit would therefore need to be undertaken to ensure that this was not the case before such action could be considered;
  • JG reported that in places the sandbar overlies a thick, stinking organic layer representing an accumulation of decaying pondweed and other organic material. This is actually present all across the estuary and needs to be taken into consideration when dredging is undertaken.

5. Pondweed Management

5.1 Planning for 2014

JG reported that he had been in contact with the IYC and obtained the dates of all events scheduled for 2014. In addition, he had looked at the tides and got tentative dates for mouth breachings. Based on this information, he had compiled a draft harvesting programme for 2014 and had been able to highlight events which might clash with spring tides/mouth breachings. Although dates for canoeing events had not yet been obtained, water levels are not as critical in this case.

There was then some discussion as to whether there was a need for rigid adherence to the schedule. It was agreed that although the schedule should not be adjusted in an ad hoc manner, whether harvesting should actually take place on the scheduled dates will depend on other criteria – for example, the prevalence of pondweed. These criteria need to be further developed and JG will take the lead on this.

JG was congratulated on his efforts to plan for 2014 and thereby implement the recommendations of the TWG.

5.2 Adoption of Recommendations of Pondweed TWG

The final recommendations of the TWG – circulated as Annex 3 to the minutes of ZEMF 9 – were adopted unanimously.

6. Any Other Business

6.1 Report-back on Provincial Estuaries Workshop

SF reported on a workshop which was convened on the 20th November by the new Chief Director: Sustainability of DEA & DP.

Important points:

  • That a new Chief Director convened such a session indicating that there is currently awareness of estuary management as part of coastal issues. Reference was made to the MEC Bredell who appears to be aware and interested.
  • Participants were asked to “tell us as Provincial govt what our role should be”.
  • CAPE estuaries programme is “achieving against all odds”
  • Monitoring is crucial.
  • There is talk of an audit of estuaries along lines of blue flag beaches to give recognition for competent management.
  • There was reference to a DWA Estuary health monitoring programme
  • National director: Coastal and Biodiversity conservation, Xola Mkefe. DEA runs an accredited estuary management course 2x pa. They also do awareness workshops for the NEM Protocol and can present to EMFs.
  • EMP must be signed off by the MEC of the province and reviewed at least every 5 years.
  • If the EMP includes the structure of the Forum, it effectively becomes formalized through the EMP process.
  • Cape Town is particularly fortunate in having environmental management structures in the City and a lot of capacity compared with most other municipalities.

Challenging issues:

EMF’s are not mandated by law. As a consequence, municipalities regard them as an “unfunded mandate” and there is no or very little budget available to support them.

The Province is thus looking for “strong partnerships “– especially with civil society -around estuaries management. It is clear that civil society provide the eyes and ears on the ground. But the reality is that there is a cost to civil society to enable them to participate in the Forums and contribute to management. There is a real issue on how funding to run the EMFs will be provided.

Another issue has been that in some cases, where EMF members have not been happy with the outcome/s of EMF deliberations, they have circumvented these structures and made complaints to eg politicians/ ward councilors. It is key that the politicians be encouraged to refer any such complaints back to the Forum.


At the conclusion of the workshop the following requests were put to the Province:

1. Hold gathering of EMF chairs
2. Formalise process of signing off and gazetting plans
3. Set up website to share information
4. Identify where national and provincial government can assist
5. Clarify roles of forums
6. Set up estuary award scheme
7. Engage with SALGA

Role of ZEMF

The Zandvlei Reserve Manager stated that the support provided by ZEMF has taken a weight off the shoulders of the Zandvlei Manager and staff.

6.2 Report on IAS Management Plan and EMP Update

Invasive Species Management Plan

LJ reported that the Invasive Species Management Plan – which covers the entire reserve – had been completed about two months ago. The plan provides an overview of the invasive species in the Reserve and identifies priorities based on the following criteria:

  • The conservation goals and values of the nature reserve
  • Impacts on biodiversity
  • The recreational value of the GZENR
  • Fire and associated risks
  • Flooding potential
  • Provision of cover for criminals
  • Status of species under NEMBA and/or CARA
  • Invasion potential.

The priorities include high risk areas, hot spots and species. Most of the management actions are to be implemented by the Invasive Species Unit (ISU) of the and/or Reserve Manager, with support from SANBI and CapeNature. There are, however, some aspects where community involvement is envisaged. These include:

1. Prevention – boat cleaning (Zandvlei Sports Club)

2. Early detection/monitoring

  • surveys of high risk sites – “adopt-a-patch” programme involving volunteers from environmental clubs, user groups
  • stakeholders to join the “Spotter Network” –
  • Target species

3. Control – fishing days/competitions targeting aliens – fishing clubs

4. Education & awareness-raising – pet trade, nurseries, fishermen.

Status of EMP Updating process

The updated EMP is expected to be completed within the next few weeks. It identifies the following Priority Issues/Actions for the period 2014 – 2018:

  • Addressing siltation of Zandvlei – based on the recommendations emanating from the Mouth Management workshop;
  • Implementation of pondweed protocol;
  • Implementation of the Contingency Plan – in particular, improved reporting around sewage spills;
  • Implementation of IAS Management Plan;
  • Development of Management Plan for coral worm;
  • Development of reed management plan.

Most of the priority issues are already addressed in supplementary plans – or will be in future. Thus the EMP itself includes just a summary of the proposed actions, while the supplementary plans which provide more detail will be attached as Annexes.

A question was raised about the use of the intermediate contact recreation water quality standard (1000 E.coli counts/100ml) for Zandvlei rather than the direct contact recreation standard (0 – 130 counts/100ml) given that people do seem to swim in the estuary on a regular basis. It was suggested that since the water quality seldom achieves the latter, consideration should be given to erecting permanent health warnings.

6.3 Vlei By-law

Zandvlei stakeholder meetings on the draft by-law were held in October and the feedback received was generally positive. There will be a second, more formal comment period at a later date.

6.4 Objectives and Planning of Forum Meetings for 2014

After some discussion it was agreed that Forum meetings should take place on a quarterly basis and should preferably be timed to link into the meetings of the Provincial Coastal Committee (the next one being on the 20th February). Technical Working Groups – such as the Pondweed TWG – could meet in between the Forum meetings as required to deal with specific issues. DW agreed to take over as Chair of the TWG on Pondweed (following KF’s resignation at the previous meeting).

Forum meetings were scheduled for 5th February, 7th May, 6th August and 12th November.

Issues proposed to be addressed during 2014 include:

  • Nutrient levels
  • Sedimentation
  • Linking the EMP to the IDP
  • Law Enforcement
  • Presentation on the NEMP
  • Oversight of the implementation of the EMP and supplementary plans.

6.5 AGM

The AGM will be held on the evening of Thursday, 13th March, 2014.

6.6 Law Enforcement

JG reported that the new Marine and Coastal Unit set up by Arne Purves was finding its feet and had had a number of successful operations in the area recently.

7. Closure

The meeting closed at 15:50.

Annex 1.

List of Attendees at the 9th Meeting of the ZEMF on 28th August 2013.

Organisation Name ABV Rep/Alt/Ind

ZEMF Chair

Sandra Fowkes

SF Chair
CapeNature  Pierre de Villiers PdV Rep
CoCT (SRCM) Justin Smit JS Alt
CoCT (SRCM) Martin Thompson MT Rep
CoCT (BMB) Josh Gericke JM Alt
CoCT (W & S) Andrew Taylor AT Rep
Sea Cadets David Walker DW Rep
Imperial Yacht Club Damian Gibbs DaG Rep
Cape Bird Club Gavin Lawson GL Rep
Fishing fraternity Case Veugelers CV Obs.
C & EC Lynn Jackson Consultant Consultant


Annex 2.

CAPE Estuaries Programme: Facilitation of the Estuary Management Plan (EMP) for the Zandvlei Estuary, Muizenberg, Cape Town

10th Meeting of the Zandvlei Estuary Management Forum (ZEMF)
13:30 – 16:00 : 25th November 2013
Zandvlei Sports Club (Yacht Club)


1. Welcome and introductions, apologies etc
2. Adoption of Minutes of ZEMF 9
3. Matters arising from the 9th ZEMF Meeting
3.1 Reporting on sewage spills (DEA & DP)
3.2 Proposal on financial support for Secretariat function (SF)
3.3 Circulation of contingency plan (DG)
4. Pondweed Management
4.1 Adoption of final draft of recommendations of Pondweed TWG (KF)
4.2 Other Pondweed-related matters
5. Mouth Management
5.1 Report back on meeting on Zandvlei Mouth Management (DW)
5.2 Monitoring of siltation (MT)
6. Any Other Business
6.1 Report back on Provincial Estuaries Workshop (SF)
6.2 Report on IAS management plan & EMP update (LJ)
6.3 Report back on stakeholder meetings on Vlei by-law (JG)
6.4 Setting objectives and planning for 2014
6.5 AGM
7. Dates and focus for meetings in 2014.

 Annex 3.

List of Commonly Used Acronyms

BMB  Biodiversity Management Branch
CoCT City of Cape Town
CPUT Cape Peninsula University of Technology
CWAC Co-ordinated Waterbird Annual Census
DEA & DP Department of Environment Affairs and Development Planning
EMP Estuary Management Plan
IYC Imperial Yacht Club
NEMPA National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act
PAAC Protected Area Advisory Committee
PCC Provincial Coastal Committee
SAPS South African Police Services
TWG Technical Working Group
W & S Water and Sanitation Department
ZEMF Zandvlei Estuary Management Forum



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