Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter March 2007
RIETVLEI UNDER STRESS
As you will have heard or seen in the press Rietvlei is suffering the impacts of ongoing urbanisation. The natural environment seems to take a certain amount of abuse and then it starts reacting. The North Vlei area of the reserve is one of the two deep water lakes on the western side just south of the residential area called Flamingo Vlei. This is the area that is used for boating by the public and the Milnerton Aquatic Club. The first drama came in the form of dying fish, by the tons.
The second problem to appear is that of toxic blue-green algae. The water area was closed for a few days in late December 2006, whilst the fish were being collected and the area cleaned up. Now the water area has been closed from 3 March until 19 March, or longer depending on test results of the algae. However this is just one area of the reserve that is stressing. The central pan has had ongoing silt deposited there. Over the years, stripping the veld in the catchment area for farming or to build suburbs has resulted in silt-laden stormwater rushing down the Diep River in winter. On reaching the wide open space of the wetlands the water in the river slows down and deposits all the suspended silt in the wetlands. Winter passes and summer comes and so the wetlands dry up. At this time of year the vlei can be very dry, and the weather conditions can be hot and windy. And so this deposited silt starts lifting off with the turbulent winds and being carried over the neighbouring houses.
And then we come to the poor Milnerton Lagoon. This Lagoon has struggled over the years with being dredged to create Woodbridge Island in the 1980’s, hemmed in on all sides by development and then being impacted by ever increasing poor quality sewage effluent water. About 5 years ago the prawns gave up the struggle and died off. Now there are health warnings up for the canoeists and paddlers to be aware of diseases they may pick up from the water. “Miggies” have now started breeding and are becoming a nuisance.
One seriously wonders whether there is a positive way out of this stressed state for the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve.
 
MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
We had a membership drive on Saturday 17 March at Table View Mall outside Pick ‘n’ Pay. A few stalwart members spent the morning telling interested shoppers about the wetland on their doorstep. Thanks to them we have some new and interested members.
  
ACTIVITIES
On Thursday 1 February (the day before World Wetlands Day) we had our first Evening Talk for 2007. Martin Burr spoke to us about the past and present of the Kynoch site on the corner of Koeberg and Plattekloof Roads and all that is involved in the decommissioning of the site before further future development can take place. For those of us who have lived in Table View for a while and have watched while the site changed from a fertiliser factory to a film set and now to an open area, it provided an interesting perspective into what goes on behind the scenes.
Our first walk for 2007 took place on Sunday 11 February, alongside the Milnerton Lagoon, during the rainy spell. Photographs taken by Niel on the day are available for viewing on our website. You will be able to see that we are wrapped up in anoraks against the rain, very unusual for early February. We started the walk on the beach, progressed onto the Golf Course and thence to the Lagoon. It was most interesting to see the area from that side. We then walked back along the beach. Thank you to all who came along.
Our next walk was to have been along the Diep River and the Fynbos Corridor on 11 March, but it has been postponed as the area is very dry at the moment. However….
  
TABLE MOUNTAIN FUND gets involved..
In collaboration with the Environmental Resource Management Department of the City of Cape Town, Friends of Rietvlei is the recipient of funding to employ a Nature Conservator to work in the Diep River area connecting to the Blaauwberg Conservation Area. This is known as the “Fynbos Corridor”. This conservator will be deployed to work with the City staff, under the Rietvlei Reserve manager, Koos Retief. With WESSA as our admin partner, the City of Cape Town, TMF and ourselves a new era will start in the conservation of another tract of valuable conservation land. And so…….. a walk in the area with our new conservator should take place in the forthcoming months.
 
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - DIARISE THIS NOW
Our Annual General Meeting for 2007 will take place on TUESDAY 8 May 2007. Niel van Wyk, one of the members of Friends of Rietvlei, will be the guest speaker. Niel is the developer of our website and it is thanks to him for many of the photographs that can be seen on the website. He used to work in conservation and we look forward to his talk on “Estuaries, Estuarine Fish & the Fish Mortalities in Rietvlei”. We would like to encourage all members to attend this very important meeting and maybe bring a friend or family members along as well. Subscriptions may be paid on the night. Please consider becoming a committee member and helping to make a REAL DIFFERENCE at Rietvlei. The AGM starts at 8pm, with refreshments and socialising beforehand from 7.30pm. PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU ATTEND. APOLOGIES TO PAULINE ON 021 557 6920 (A/H)
  
MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL
Another payment of your subscription is required at this time of the year. Our financial year closes at the end of March, so it is time again to support our organisation with your money. Life or Ten Year members do not have to pay but all Ordinary, Family and Corporate members do have to. Please  make your payment ASAP. – Thank you!
  
PROJECTS
Jonathan Bandli is working on his Springbok scout badge. For his 40 hour community project members of the Ist Blaauwberg Sea Scouts worked under his guidance in the Reserve over the first two weeks of March. They helped with the sealing of the outside woodwork at the Education Centre, cleaning up of the amphitheatre area, as well as helping with clearing of the ever growing Port Jackson trees. The boys used the tree poppers efficiently and built up considerable piles of “popped” trees. Thanks to the scouts!!
  
CO-ORDINATED WATERBIRD COUNT
Next count is happening on Friday 20 April at 9h00. Contact Koos Retief on 021 5501086 if you want to help. All assistance is welcomed.
  
WEBSITE = KEEP UP WITH RIETVLEI INFORMATION!
Please keep checking our website for the latest information and photos.
 
What is important to know about blue-green algae?
Blooms flourish in warmer summer waters, and in many areas die down during winter time
Plant nutrients promote the growth of these algae
Toxins produced can survive high temperatures
Toxicity fluctuates constantly. It is possible for algae to be toxic one day, and not the next
Thanks go to Chevron Refinery for sponsoring envelopes for the posted newsletter.
Friends of Rietvlei 2006-2011. All rights reserved. • Developed by Blue Cape Media • Hosted by Snowball Effect (Pty) Ltd