Friends of Rietvlei
Member of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa Western Cape Region
Newsletter April 2009
Financial Year End
Another year has passed by in the life of Friends of Rietvlei. This means two things:
its time to renew your membership and pay your fees - for those members who are not life or 10-year members. Please find attached a membership form with the fee details. We have not increased them this year! Please do an EFT, or deposit at the bank, send a cheque to our postal address, or pay your fees at the AGM.
its time for the Annual General Meeting on Thursday 7 May 2009 at 19h30 for 20h00 in the Rietvlei Education Centre, off Sandpiper Road, Flamingo Vlei. There will be the usual business of Chairmans report, Treasurers report, Election of new committee. Thereafter Koos Retief, Reserve Manager will present the Management Plan for Rietvlei, and Conette Koorts will introduce herself and update us on her work at Rietvlei.
We look forward to you paying your fees and attending the AGM. You are welcome to invite friends and relatives who are interested in Rietvlei.
Environmental Education
Conette Koorts was appointed as the environmental education intern at Rietvlei and started work on 1 March. She has already made an impact by sorting out the accumulated mess in the Education Centre, and has been active with various school groups. Conette completed her Nature Conservation Diploma last year. For her practical year she worked at Bracken Nature Reserve in Brackenfell, so she is already familiar with the City’s biodiversity management objectives. We wish her well in her work at Rietvlei and look forward to contact with her.
The Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) System
On 8 April we attended an information meeting in the Blaauwberg Subcouncil Chamber on the Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) system that is being built on the R27. City officials gave presentations on the development of the phase covering our area, on the infrastructure being established, and on the City’s engagement with the mini-bus taxi industry.
Phase 1a of the City’s IRT system is aimed at completion before the 2010 World Cup and includes inner city services, airport services, and services up the West Coast. The system comprises of trunk routes which has exclusive dedicated bus transit lanes for special 18-metre articulated buses, and feeder routes where smaller 8m and 12m buses travel in normal traffic transporting passengers to the trunk routes.
The main trunk routes in our area in phase 1a will be from Doornbach and Du Noon down Potsdam Rd, along Blaauwberg Rd to Bayside; from Bayside the route is along the R27 to Paarden Eiland from where it will go along the old railway line corridor to Culemborg where it goes along Old Marine Drive and onto Hertzog Boulevard via Civic Lane, and then on to Sea Point. Feeder routes from Bloubergstrand, Parklands/Sunningdale, Gie Rd area, Flamingo Vlei, Montague Gardens, etc, will provide access to the trunk routes. Later in 2010 the trunk route will also include Atlantis and Melkbosstrand, and there will be trunk route from Century City via Bosmansdam Rd and Koeberg Rd joining up with the R27 route at Boundary Rd. Feeder routes will also be expanded to include more areas.
The trunk routes will mostly be in the median of the roadway, i.e. on either side of the central island in the road. Stations will be built in the central island near to pedestrian crossings where they will be easily accessible for all. An important feature of the whole infrastructure is that it will be easily accessible for wheelchairs – buses have wide doors which open level with the platforms, and there will be ramps at all the stations. Access to the system will be by smart card, these can be purchased at the station, but will also be available at shops, supermarkets and other outlets like corner stores, etc.
In addition to the bus route, there will be a two-way cycle route on all the main trunk routes. Along the R27 this will be on the western side of the road, separate from vehicular traffic; in Blaauwberg Rd this will be in the wide central island of the road between the bus lanes. Cyclists will be able to cycle all the way into the city centre on a safe cycle-way.
It was also interesting to learn that, contrary to the impression we get from reports in the press, most of the minibus taxi associations are on board and co-operating with the City. They will become major shareholders in the companies that are being established to operate the system, and it is envisaged that many of the drivers will become drivers in the new system. However, it is true that there is still some intimidation from taxi operators who are refusing to participate in the process.
The environmental authorisation given by the Provincial government for the construction of the IRT routes in this area required that a Construction Environmental Management Plan be compiled and that the adherence to this CEMP by the contractors must be monitored by an Environmental Site Officer. The company Ecosense has been appointed in this role. Ecosense together with a wetland specialist, Geordie Radcliff, and landscape specialists from Planning Partners, are paying particularly attention to the edge of Milnerton Lagoon, the coastal area, and the section near Dolphin Beach ponds. Due to the haste with which construction is happening some of the sensitive sections are being designed on site.
The IRT will be a great benefit to all of us living in this area – it will provide us with an easily accessible, safe and relatively low-cost public transport system; not only for commuters to and from the city, but also for transport locally to and from the shopping and recreational areas.
Regional Waste Water Treatment Works
You are all aware that several years ago the City appointed consultants to look at the waste water treatment situation in the Blaauwberg area. Potsdam and Melkbosstrand Waste Water Treatment Works both have limited capacities, and will not be able to cope with the expected increase in population in this area, particularly if the area north of Parklands/Sunningdale is all developed and development starts creeping northwards into the Morning Star area.
Early investigations excluded the possibility of developing a new waste water treatment works, and the present investigations basically involve increasing the capacities of either Melkbosstrand, Potsdam, or both.
During March the consultants compiling the Environmental Impact Report on the proposed extension and upgrading of waste water treatment infrastructure in the Blaauwberg Area published their draft Environmental Impact report for public comment. The Friends of Rietvlei studied this report and, although in parts it was a very thorough and detailed report, we were disappointed to note that key issues had not been addressed.
Our recommendation to the consultants was that no decision on the important issue can be taken until all the outstanding issues have been addressed and included in the report. There are three major issues that are not adequately addressed in the report:
The first is that while the report deals in detail with various options for collecting, transporting and treating sewage, it does not discuss the disposal of effluent from the treatment works in any detail – it takes it for granted that the effluent will be dumped in the nearest river, in this case either the Sout River at Melkbosstrand or the Diep River at Rietvlei. Dumping more effluent in these will have serious negative impacts as both rivers are already under severe strain from pollution. We feel that other disposal options like piped marine discharge, aquifer recharging, or re-use should be considered in more detail.
A second, and important, shortcoming in the report is that it does not in any way discuss the economic implications of the various proposed options. The direct financial costs are mentioned, but medium to long term economic effects on local communities, recreational activities, property values, etc, are not discussed. It is thus difficult for us to understand how decision-makers can make a considered decision without the necessary information on medium to long term economic implications.
Thirdly the report does not address the all-important effects of climate change on their proposals. Potsdam is situated at and just above the 100-year floodline, and is thus very vulnerable to climate change, both from rising sea levels and from more severe flood events.
There are other issues in the report that also needs expanding, and we can only hope that all outstanding issues will be adequately addressed before the authorities make any final decision.
Rietvlei Visitor Facility Upgrading
At last the braai/picnic places at the recreation area near the education centre have been upgraded. Koos Retief waited many months for the materials to be delivered and installed, but they are finally in place. This work was undertaken with R 100 000 that was allocated from Cllr Berry’s capital ward allocation. The request for this money was done by Friends of Rietvlei, so we are proud to be the instigators for these new facilities.
Previous Walks & Talks
The evening talk on 26 February by Simon Lielcock on Rock Art along the West Coast and in the Cedarberg was well attended by an appreciative audience. Most of us are not too familiar with the subject and found Simon’s presentation interesting and informative.
The walk at Zoarvlei on 8 March was less well attended, the strong south easter probably discouraged many from joining us. The small group walked north along the western shore of the vlei, then crossed to the eastern side and walked back to the historical homestead, Klein Zoar, where we crossed back to where we had parked. There we had a look at the work being done on the Integrated Rapid Transit system where the route enters the old Paarden Eiland railway line.
Thanks go to Chevron Refinery for sponsoring envelopes for the posted newsletter.
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