Friends of Rietvlei
Member of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa Western Cape Region
Newsletter October 2010
Please renew your membership as soon as possible. Our organisation can only be effective if we have members that support us in protecting our valuable environment. Some of you are about to be wiped off our database – DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN TO YOU!!
FORTHCOMING EVENTS
RIETVLEI AFTERNOON WALK
Sunday, 31 October 2010 @ 3pm
It is a long time since we walked to the Bird Hides at Rietvlei – so please join us on Sunday afternoon 31 October 2010 at 3pm. We will meet at the Rietvlei Education Centre, off Sandpiper Road, Table View
Please wear walking shoes, a hat or jacket or whatever the weather dictates! All are welcome!
EVENING TALK
Thursday, 11 November 2010 @ 7.30 for 8.00pm
Our end of the year report-back by the students will be on Thursday 11 November 2010 at 7.30 for 8pm in the Log Cabin Eerste Steen, Blaauwberg Conservation Area. Please bring a plate of snacks to share and we will be enjoying the evening with our BCA friends.
PLEASE CONTACT Pauline on 083 255 2537 if you require further info on the above events.
Recent Events
We had a very interesting Evening Talk by Helm van Zijl of the Cape Bird Club with wonderful slides of his visit to the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula in November last year. Very few of us will ever have the opportunity of visiting this isolated part of the world, but this slide show again just proved how magnificent and beautiful our planet really is.
On the 5th of September 12 people joined Christopher Singo and Rifqah Johnson on a walk through the Diep River area. The spring flowers were out in full force, and we were again made aware of the challenges that face Christopher in the management of this area. Port Jackson was invading large portions of the site. Areas that had been cleared two years ago now had considerable regrowth. We also saw the considerable amount of littering and dumping that was taking place on the site. We also experienced firsthand, the problems with motorbikes, when several bikes illegally in the area appeared in the paths we were walking. We can only hope that Christopher will soon have the necessary resources to tackle all these problems effectively. In the meantime he has put up a number of regulatory signs, so it is hoped these will help the enforcement battle.
DIEP RIVER ESTUARY MANAGEMENT PLAN
On 16 September several of our members attended a workshop where progress with the implementation of the Estuary Management Plan (EMP) was discussed. Several projects have been completed or are nearing completion. The topographic survey and digital elevation model has been done, and preliminary monitoring of salinities in comparison to Potsdam effluent flows has also been completed. The study launched by the City on the stormwater discharges along the eastern bank of the Diep River is nearing completion, a preliminary report has been issued and this will be finalised within a month or two. The Provincial Government also funded a heavy metal survey in the sediments and biota of the Diep River, a preliminary report has been under discussion for a while and the final report is expected soon.
However, one of the most important studies that needs to be done is a study of the hydrology and geohydrology of the Diep River estuary and Rietvlei. The data from this study is essential to address management issues like the dust problem and flooding, as well as to implement management strategies that will allow the estuary to revert to a more natural state. It is even more important now that there has been a decision to allow the expansion of Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Works (see article below), this data is urgently needed to establish how much treated effluent Potsdam can release into the system during various seasons to minimise negative effects on the system.
The Friends of Rietvlei last year and early this year requested the City to access the Rietvlei Trust Fund for funds for this project, but this has not materialised. Recently we applied to the Table Mountain Fund (TMF) for funds for this project, and we have provisionally been allocated R100,000 from the TMF – BUT the funds will only be released if a third party provides money for the balance required. Friends of Rietvlei has pledged R6,270 (the cost of one of the pieces of equipment required) to this project, and we have now again approached the City to provide the balance of R205,200 from the Rietvlei Trust Fund or relevant City budgets.
Another study that needs to be done urgently is a Reserve Determination for the estuary – this must be done by the Department of Water Affairs before they can issue a permit to Potsdam WWTW. The Reserve Determination provides standards for the water quality and quantity of treated effluent from Potsdam before it can be released into the Diep River.
The report back on the Estuary Management Plan was informative and somewhat encouraging to see that slow progress is being made on the action plan.
Expansion and Upgrading of Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure in the Blaauwberg Area.
In our previous newsletter we mentioned the Record of Decision (ROD) by the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning approving the expansion of Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Works from a capacity of 47Ml/day to 100Ml/day. The Friends of Rietvlei has since lodged an appeal against the ROD with the Minister of Local Government, Environment Affairs and Development Planning. Our appeal is not against the expansion of Potsdam WWTW as such, but is because we believe that the decision was premature as the Environmental Impact Report on which the decision is based had not included alternative options for the disposal of treated effluent. The report assumed that the Diep River can cope with more treated effluent, and also that there will be increased re-use of treated effluent, but no studies were done to establish whether these assumptions were true. Alternative methods like marine discharge of treated effluent, was also not included as a possible option for effluent discharge.
Another reason for our appeal is that the ROD is ambiguous and needs clarification of a number of the conditions listed in the ROD. At the time of going to press we are still waiting for the Minister’s decision.
An interesting note on the Potsdam issue is that Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Works have been functioning without a valid permit since 2004. This permit must be issued by the Department of Water Affairs, but for the last six years the Department has allowed Potsdam to continue operating under the conditions of its old expired permit. Water Affairs is now considering the City’s application for a new permit for Potsdam, this is for the present operations and not for the possible expanded operations.
Water Affairs have informed the City that they are not in favour of the expansion of Potsdam WWTW, mostly for the same reasons that the Friends of Rietvlei raised, namely that alternative discharge options had not been investigated and included in the EIR. They have also stated categorically that they will not consider any new application for the expansions until the permit presently under consideration has been issued and certain matters raised during this permit application has been satisfactorily addressed.
Invitation to attend an information session on the newly established Early Detection and Rapid Response Programme
SANBI and the City of Cape Town are working in partnership to implement a pilot EDRR project in the Cape Peninsula.
What is Early Detection and Rapid Response? Preventing the introduction of invasive species is the first line of defence against invasions. Even the best prevention efforts will not stop all invasive species introductions. EDRR is the second line of defence and involves detecting new and emerging plants at an early stage and removing them before they become established.
Why early detection and rapid response? Managing already established invasive plant populations cost the country millions every year. If these invasive plants were detected and removed earlier, eradication would still be possible, less costly and less damaging to the environment and economy.
How do we intend doing it? A list of target plant species has been identified. An EDRR network will be established, consisting of “spotters” and “experts”. The spotter network is made up of volunteers who will be reporting target species. Unknown species will be sent to the experts for identification. After locating and positively identifying target species the Rapid Response team will remove the species.
How can you get involved? Join the EDRR network!
More information?
You are invited to an information session on the EDRR project in the Peninsula, where you can find out more about the project, its objectives and how you can become involved.
Date:   9 November 2010, 5.30 for 6pm until 8pm
Venue: The Barn at the WESSA, 31 The Sanctuary, off Pollsmoor Road, Kirstenhof.
RSVP:  Sandy at WESSA on 021 701 1397 or e-mail admin@wessa.co.za
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