Friends of Rietvlei
Newsletter August 2008
Very high rainfall in early July resulted in the water levels in Rietvlei rising to its highest for several years. At MAC the level rose to 3m above mean sea level. During last year’s floods the highest recorded level was 2.8m above MSL. There are some great pictures of the vlei and river filled to the brim on our website.
Walks & Talks
Our next walk will be on the old Kynoch site on the corner of Plattekloof Road and Koeberg Road (entrance opposite Chevron (Caltex) Refinery on Plattekloof Rd). Development on this site will commence within a few months, so we would like to view the rehabilitation work done on the Duikersvlei Stream that runs through the site. You may remember that a couple of years ago we had an evening talk by Martin Burr about this rehabilitation. Our walk will be on Sunday afternoon 24 August - meet at the entrance to the site at 15h00. If you have any queries phone Pat on 021 557 3748 / 083 701 4318 or Niel on 021 552 8305 / 082 926 0039
At our evening talk on 24 June the two students working at Rietvlei Wetlands Reserve gave a short presentation of their projects; Sandiso Kraai also reported on how his work in the Diep River corridor north of Rietvlei was progressing. This was an informative evening but unfortunately only a few brave Friends ventured out in the cold weather.
Unfortunately we had to cancel the walk to Zoarvlei because of heavy rains – it turned out that the weather was actually very pleasant later that Sunday afternoon, but it was very wet underfoot and the paths were rather muddy. We’ll reschedule this for later in the year.
We would really like to have some feedback from you, our members. What walks and talks do you enjoy and what days and times suit you best. Please send us an email with your ideas!!
Rietvlei Visitor Facility Upgrading
On 31 August our reserve manager Koos Retief delivered a presentation with proposals for upgrading the visitor facilities at Rietvlei Wetland Reserve. The City Council has provided funds during the current financial year; and the Ward Councillor, Cllr Liz Berry, has also made funds available from her Ward Councillors allocation. This ward allocation of R 100 000 came about following a request from Friends of Rietvlei to Cllr Berry. The presentation was well attended by Friends and members of Milnerton Aquatic Club (MAC).
The recreational areas where upgrades could take place were identified as the area next to our Education Centre, at the fishing sites, on the peninsula or on the western shore of the North Vlei. Many MAC members wanted the area on the peninsula to be upgraded for braais and picnics. Friends suggested that the area near our Education Centre be upgraded for picnicing. This would be especially useful for our visiting school children. It is hoped to provide seats, braai facilities and rubbish bins with a uniform appearance.
As the funds are not sufficient to upgrade all the visitor facilities at Rietvlei, a small working group was formed to assist Koos in deciding priorities and how to tackle this important task. Koos is aiming to complete the upgrading during the next few months, well before the year-end holiday season.
The Friends will also contribute to this process – we will be tackling the information shelters which are in need of a coat of varnish, and also supply the posters that go inside these shelters – these are being updated at present.
The WESSA AGM on 26 June was well-attended. The keynote speaker was Jan Glazewski, Professor of Environmental Law at UCT who discussed several environmental court cases and how these were resolved in court. His conclusion was that an environmental court case is rarely decided on environmental merits, but most usually on whether the correct procedures laid down by law has been followed in the processes that gave rise to the issue of conflict.
On Saturday 9 August there was a Friends Workshop at Bracken Nature Reserve. This reserve is in Brackenfell, between the suburbs of Protea Heights, Northpine and Scotsdene. Patrick Dowling gave a short presentation on the importance and limitations of water resources in the Western Cape and again stressed that measures that save water and decrease demand is the only way to safeguard our natural resources.
After the presentation there was a short walk in the Bracken reserve. There are wonderful views from the top of the hill, site of several water reservoirs. A large portion of the reserve (half the original hill) had been an old granite quarry that was then used as a solid waste dumpsite. This has now been capped and is presently being rehabilitated, but it is a slow process. It is a very interesting reserve and well worth a visit. Some of us made a quick trip to Perdekop, which is the site of some amazing Swartland Granite Renosterveld.
Membership Renewal
Membership numbers of Friends of Rietvlei seem to be dropping, please encourage friends and neighbours to join up. As a Friends group we need to be vigilant and have our voice heard in various forums – this voice can only be effective if we have a substantial membership to back it. Those of you who have not yet renewed your membership this year, please do so now.
Friends of Rietvlei Constitution
You may wonder what the process is with our new constitution which we accepted at the AGM. The first step was to submit the constitution to WESSA for ratification. In due course we received their written ratification of our new constitution. We have now submitted an application for registration as a nonprofit organisation with the Directorate of Nonprofit Organisations in the Department of Social Welfare. We understand that it can take up to nine months for such registration to go through, so we will just have to be patient.
Milnerton Conservation Area ( MCA)
The Milnerton Conservation Area in Royal Ascot is in need of Friends. Rather than start a new Friends group, your committee has decided that Friends of Rietvlei will take this important conservation area under its wing. The site is in the Rietvlei catchment area and, although now cut off from Rietvlei, was part of the Rietvlei environment before development isolated the site.
We thus urge people living in Royal Ascot who are keen to assist in the conservation of this little jewel, to join the Friends of Rietvlei so that your voices can be heard.
Milnerton Conservation Area featured at the recent Fynbos Forum – a gathering of academics, nature conservators, managers and amateurs with a keen interest in the fynbos floral kingdom. The Fynbos Forum met in Oudtshoorn this year during early August. Koos Retief, Rietvlei & Surrounds Reserve Manager did a presentation on the conservation efforts taking place in the MCA. Jeremy Keyser, the nature conservator who manages the area on behalf of the MCA Environmental Monitoring Committee ( a committee set up in compliance with approvals given for development of Royal Ascot) had a poster on display. At the 2007 Fynbos Forum the first poster on the area was presented. It is hoped that the two posters will be displayed in local libraries shortly.
Estuary Management Plan
Many of you will know of, or recall, some of the recent environmental “problems” that Rietvlei has experienced. There was the massive fish die-off in the North Vlei in December 2006, in early 2007 there were episodes of blue-green algal blooms, also in the North Vlei. The Central Pan has received increased sediment over the years, which blows off in dust clouds during very windy, hot spells in late summer. The Milnerton Lagoon has become unusable for recreation due to high levels of E-coli and Faecal coliforms. All these impacts show a wetland/estuarine system under stress from stormwater, effluent and sediment inflows.
The City of Cape Town set aside R 100 000 in the 2007/8 financial year to contribute to the budget being allocated by the CAPE Estuaries Program for an Estuary Management Plan. This project has finally got off the ground by the appointment of Lynette Jackson and a team from Peak Consulting to undertake the first phase of this plan. Lynette and her team have been gathering up all the relevant studies, documents and information on Rietvlei to ensure that background information that is available is not repeated. This will then determine what gaps there are and what may be needed to compile the Estuary Management Plan.
It is also the intention to initially look at the particular problems of water quality and sedimentation of the system and to recommend some interventions that may be taken in the short term.
Lynette hopes to have a public meeting on 15 September 2008 in the evening but as yet we have no confirmation of meeting time and venue. In the meantime diarise 15 September and watch the press or our website for further details. This study will be important to guide the future management interventions at Rietvlei and all input will be welcome.
Thanks go to Chevron Refinery for sponsoring envelopes for the posted newsletter.
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