Friends of Rietvlei
Member of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa Western Cape Region
Newsletter August 2009
Friends of Rietvlei now has NPO status
It is official! Friends of Rietvlei is now registered as an Nonprofit Organisation in terms of the Nonprofit Organisation Act, 1997. After our 2008 AGM where we adopted a new constitution to comply with the requirements of the Nonprofit Organisation Act, we submitted our application in early June 2008. Nothing was heard from the Directorate of Nonprofit Organisations until December 2008 when they queried some of the details on the application. We responded to their letter and there was another long period of silence.
Imagine our pleasant surprise when in mid July we received an official letter informing us that our application was successful. Our surprise was even greater when we saw that the certificate of registration was dated 23 March 2009, nearly four months before we were informed!
This basically means that Friends of Rietvlei qualifies for exemption from income tax. We have not been liable for income tax in the past, but we could be liable if we receive income from invested funds in the future.
The second benefit is that donors can now deduct donations to Friends of Rietvlei from their taxable income to the limit of R1000 or 5% of annual taxable income, whichever is the greater, for both individuals and companies.
Next Afternoon Walk
It is a long time since we have walked at Rietvlei, so our next walk will be there on Sunday 6 September at 15h00. We hope that by then the water levels will have dropped sufficiently for us to visit both bird hides. The old bird hide was built by Friends of Rietvlei many years ago. The new bird hide was built by the City last year but has only become accessible with a new boardwalk having been constructed in April 2009. Meet at the Environmental Education Centre at 14h45. Wear comfortable boots or shoes that will probably get muddy!
Queries? 021 5573748
Many of you participated in the workshops and public meetings during the process of writing the Estuary Management Plan for the Diep River; the plan was completed in December last year, and was presented to the Blaauwberg Subcouncil in February, but after that it seemed as if nothing much was going to happen.
However, it has now been confirmed that the C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme, together with the City Council, has appointed Dr Lynn Jackson, who was primarily responsible for compiling the plan for the Diep River estuary, as a consultant to take the process further and to ensure implementation of the plan.
The Rietvlei Management Working Group will be the forum co-ordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Estuary Management Plan for the Diep River. We should have more information about this in the next newsletter.
In our previous newsletter we reported that we had received an allocation from the City to continue the work in the Diep River corridor started by Sandiso Kraai. We placed an advert for the job of Diep River Conservation Officer, and received 49 applications, several from the UK, Belgium, France, Kenya and Zimbabwe. From these a short list was drawn up and interviews were arranged with several candidates. An appointment has been made, but the contract start date is only late October.
More info in the next newsletter!!
By-law for Rietvlei Wetland Reserve
At the July meeting of the Rietvlei Management Working Group Koos Retief reported that a request came from the Blaauwberg Subcouncil, and he has started the process to review the by-law relating to the use and control of the Rietvlei water area. This by-law was promulgated on 2 September 1977, and after 32 years it needs revision and updating to meet present demands. The process of revision is quite a lengthy one, including approval from the City Council to revise the by-law. Once that approval is obtained, a public participation process must be initiated so that all role-players and interested parties can make their inputs and suggestions.
Friends of Rietvlei strongly supports the revision of the by-law, and we have promised our full co-operation with and participation in the process of revision. We will keep you informed of progress and, at the appropriate time, invite inputs from our members.
Expansion and Upgrading of Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure in the Blaauwberg Area.
Earlier this year, we were involved in the public participation process following the publication of the draft Environmental Impact Report on the upgrading of wastewater treatment infrastructure in the Blaauwberg Area. The report considered three main options, these being the upgrading of Melkbosstrand Wastewater Treatment Works only, the upgrading of Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works only, and sharing the upgrading at both sites.
Upgrading and expanding Potsdam WWTW, either on its own or with Melkbosstrand, has huge implications for Rietvlei and the Diep River. The system is already under severe stress, and increasing the treated effluent flow into the system will only add to our problems.
The final EIA report has now been completed and submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP), and to our concern we found that our comments had not been included in this report. We have subsequently written to the DEADP directly expressing our concerns and again raising the issues we raised in our original comments.
Our main concerns are that the final report makes two very risky assumptions regarding the disposal of treated effluent from Potsdam WWTW – the first is that the existing bypass channel will either cope with additional discharge, or can be enlarged to accommodate additional discharge; the second is that most of the additional effluent will be re-used for sportsfields and by farmers.
The bypass channel is a matter of great concern, and the Estuary Management Plan suggests that the channel may have caused more harm than good in the longer term. The EMP states categorically that the channel must not be enlarged or even cleaned out until further hydrological studies in the Diep River are undertaken. The issue of re-use of water is also not a certainty, there is concern that continual use of treated effluent negatively affects groundwater resources; we are also concerned about the over-use of treated effluent by farmers in the Durbanville area which is in the catchment of the Diep River, negatively affecting the river and subsequently the estuary.
We will keep you informed of developments with regard to this important issue.
Energy Efficiency or Energy Reduction
Energy efficiency is not about reducing heat, light or power in your house; it is about wasting less energy. It is also not about doing less to save energy, but about doing the same or more with less energy. This basically comes down to using energy more efficiently with less wastage.
Energy efficiency has been described as a renewable energy resource that is perfectly cheap, abundant and immediately available. It can reduce carbon emissions and reduce our dependence on imported energy resources. It does not pollute, and it does not depend on the weather like solar and wind power.
There are several ways of improving energy efficiency in your home – here is another tip:
One often hears that it is more energy efficient to leave a light on in a room than switching it off every time you leave the room – the reason given is that you use more electricity when switching it on, than by leaving the light on. This is not true! In fact the amount of energy used when switching on lights is worth only a few seconds of electricity use. Most light bulbs use less than 3 seconds worth of electricity when switched on, even the old fluorescent tubes (those that splutter on!), use only about 23 seconds worth of electricity when switched on. With older types of light bulbs, continuous switching on and off did result in shorter lifespan, but with modern light bulbs this is no longer the case.
So if you are going to be out of a room for longer than a few seconds, you save electricity by switching the lights off when you leave.
In our next newsletter we will have another energy efficiency tip for you.
Thanks go to Chevron Refinery for sponsoring envelopes for the posted newsletter.
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