Wetland threatened by prospecting rights

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 Sep 2011

Minerals prospecting upstream of the Western Cape’s Verlorenvlei wetland would go ahead, Department of Mineral Resources spokesman Bheki Khumalo said yesterday.

60% of Verlorenvlei’s water is from the Krom Antonies River, the catchment area which is in the middle of the prospecting area

There is controversy about the department’s allowing prospecting for tungsten, rare earths and molybdenum by Bongani Minerals, which has a link to Imperial Crown Trading (ICT), the company engaged in a political tussle over the mineral rights to Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen mine.

The rights award has raised the wrath of environmentalists and farmers who claim any mining that resulted from successful prospecting would endanger agriculture and the wetland, a “Ramsar” site. This refers to sites worldwide recognised under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and endangered ecosystems, to which SA is a signatory.

“A review is not on the cards. We have followed the law to the letter,” said Mr Khumalo, who is also chairman of the Minerals and Mineral Development Board. The board reviews objections to minerals rights and had already reviewed the Verlorenvlei Coalition’s objection, lodged last week. Continue reading

Water Affairs serves notice on wetland developer

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 May 2011

The Water Affairs department has given the developer of the Beach Club in Hout Bay 48 hours to explain why it should not issue a directive to stop all further in-filling of a wetland area, remove all the fill already dumped and levelled, and rehabilitate the site to its natural state.

The developer was given notice to stop all further in-filling in the wetland area in the Disa River estuary.

A notice to this effect was served yesterday on the development company, Really Useful Investments (Pty) Ltd, by “Blue Scorpion” Thando Stimela, a compliance, monitoring and enforcement official at the department’s regional head office in Bellville.

The notice, issued under the Water Act, is similar in intent to a notice the City of Cape Town served on the developer last month.

That notice, which alleged contraventions of the city’s stormwater management by-law, also ordered the developer to stop all further in-filling in the disputed wetland area in the Disa River estuary, and required it to remove all fill already placed within the 1:100-year flood plain.

Conservationists have reported that the city’s order is being ignored, and that substantial amounts of new fill have been trucked into the site since last week, with a front-end loader being used to level it. Continue reading

Princessvlei remains an ecological battle ground

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 05 April 2011

Princessvlei, a small shallow wetland situated in the Retreat area of the Cape Flats, remains the subject of a tug of war between developers and conservationists.

Princess Vlei remains the subject of a tug of war

Thirteen years ago in 1998 Insight Property Developers set their sights on the property and approached the City of Cape Town with an unsolicited proposal to purchase the land. The plan was to build a shopping centre on the eastern portion of public open space land of around 9000 m2.

Approval was given subject to the outcome of inter-alia, a Public Participation Process, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and rezoning of the property (to business).

After the Developer (Insight) advertised the rezoning application in 2002 a Record of Decision (RoD) was issued by the Dept of Environmental Affairs – valid for 4 years. Conditions of this DEA authorisation included the removal of all alien vegetation in and around the whole vlei as well as the removal of all indigenous topsoil and vegetation from the proposed activity area for the re-vegetation of disturbed areas.

It was concluded that the proposed development would result in a socio-economic boost for the region, providing opportunities to, among others, improve the usage of the park and promote environmental education.

Since 2008, and following a Biodiversity Network Study, Princessvlei was shown to be anything but an erf with low conservation value. It is, in fact, quite critical. Continue reading

Water Awareness Event – Wildevoelvlei

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 30 March 2011

Issued on behalf of: Liesel James: Founder of Little Green Fingers

On 26 March 2011 a Water Awareness Event focusing on a local issue took place at Blue Water Café, Imhoff’s Gift. The community of South Peninsula, City of Cape Town and Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) were invited to discuss the ongoing eutrophication causing toxicity in Wildevoel Vlei and insisting on finding a successful solution.

The blue-green bloom in December 2010. Locals were warned to keep their pets and visitors away from the water.

50 people including local residents, environmental organizations and volunteer groups attended.

The Wildevoelvlei wetlands form an integral part of the wetland systems in the Noordhoek Valley. Originally the vlei was seasonal and dried out over the summer months. Rainfall, groundwater seepage, stormwater run-off and spring tides regulated the water level.

In 1977, the Wildevoelvlei WWTW was commissioned and the vlei became a permanent water body due to the treated effluent being discharged into it.

Wally Peterson founder of Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group (KEAG) who was previously involved in trying to resolve this problem gave a comprehensive history of Wildevoelvlei at the event.

He said, “WWTW was upgraded in 1996, but the development in the valley has way exceeded the expected population growth as predicted in the EIA. This placed WWTW under huge pressure through an increase of treated effluent entering the vlei, and through an increase in quantity and decrease in quality of the nonpoint stormwater run-off discharged into the vlei.” Continue reading

It’s time to save Verlorenvlei

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 January 2011

Source: Life on the vlei

Decades after conservationists called for the Verlorenvlei near Elands Bay on South Africa’s West Coast to be afforded formal conservation protection to preserve its biodiversity, this Ramsar site is still under threat. A local authority, Bergriver Municipality, has now taken action which could turn the years of environmental neglect around.

Will Verlorenvlei receive the legal environmental protection it deserves?

Twenty-five years ago conservationists called for private individuals, private enterprise, and relevant official bodies to ensure that Verlorenvlei and its multiple resources are given formal conservation status protection as soon as possible.

This was in response to the first full-scale study of the wetland system which was published by the CSIR in 1986. The report quotes Prof. John Parkington, who points out that archaeological artifacts suggest that humans have been in the Verlorenvlei area, more or less continuously, for more than 100 000 years.   With few situations in sub-Saharan Africa where the potential for prehistoric reconstruction over such a period is so promising, and no other locality along the Western Cape coast with such potential, he states that it is imperative the promise is not squandered by the lack of conservation measures.

Fresh water is the biggest concern

Now, a quarter of a century later, the Verlorenvlei is decidedly under threat. Its unique archaeological treasures, its populations of fish, birds, animals and plants and its function as water purification filter and breeding ground for a significant number of species, are battling the impacts which human populations bring.

Perhaps more significantly, the Vlei is incontrovertibly linked to the Sandveld’s complex network of aquifers. Consequently, the environmental neglect of the Vlei is also posing a hazard to the availability of potable water.  Experts in freshwater studies have been expressing concern about the quality and quantity of water in Verlorenvlei since the first full-scale study of the Verlorenvlei estuary was published in 1986.

Despite its status as an internationally recognised Ramsar wetland, it is an anomaly that this recognition of its significance as a biodiversity hotspot still affords it no formal legal conservation status under South African law. Continue reading