Zandvlei Water Quality Alert

Good day,

Please be advised that following the receipt of results of microbial sampling conducted earlier in the week, we are advising users of the Zandvlei waterbody to avoid direct contact with the water due to elevated e.coli levels. We have conducted further sampling of the waterbody today as a follow-up and will make a decision of whether or not to officially close the waterbody to recreational activities accordingly.

In the meantime, please do exercise caution and avoid coming into contact with the vlei water.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused and will communicate the latest results once they are received tomorrow.

Kind regards,

Kyran Wright

Reserve Manager:  Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve

Zandvlei dredging

Please be advised that the next phase of dredging activities are due to commence from tomorrow (Thursday 27/08/2020) at Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve as a follow-on to the work performed in June/July earlier this year. The goal of the operation is to remove marine sediment that has accumulated towards the mouth of the estuary, due to seawater intrusion. By removing this sediment, we hope to allow for better hydrological flow both in and out the waterbody.

Of note for residents and users of the vlei is that a large amount of sand will need to be stockpiled in certain sections along the western shoreline of the vlei, along Henley Road. Unfortunately, due to the amount of activity in the area, we will be temporarily closing the playground equipment along Henley Road- we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

From an environmental perspective, dredging operations are by their nature destructive to the benthic habitat, however great care will be taken to avoid unnecessary impacts. Certain sections of Fragmites reeds might be impacted, however Nature Reserve officials will be on site to guide machine operators in order to limit environmental damage. Sandprawn populations may be impacted over the short term but recolonisation tends to occur within 4 weeks post-disturbance. It’s important to note that the longer term impacts of the sediment removal will however be a net-positive to the ecosystem, which is one of the main motivations for the work to commence.

Many sections of the shoreline in the area have eroded quite significantly over time, therefore we shall be including some bank restoration during the operations to create softer edges that are more conducive to local biota, stabilised with natural vegetation.

Attached is a map of the intended excavation area (red), sand stockpiles (orange circles) and shorelines identified for restoration (green). If anyone has any queries regarding the above, please feel free to contact myself on the details provided below.

Kyran Wright

Reserve Manager:  Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve
Biodiversity Management Branch
Environmental Management Department
Physical Address: Coniston Park, Coniston Avenue, Steenberg

Residents invited to join City Nature Challenge this weekend

The lockdown version of the City Nature Challenge will run from Friday, 24 April until Monday, 27 April 2020. Residents are encouraged to participate, because even when only the natural environment at our homes are considered, Cape Town remains one of the most biodiverse cities in the world. To take part, participants simply have to upload their findings on the iNaturalist app. Read more below:

High resolution photographs are available here:

The weather forecast for the weekend is sunny, and the City Nature Challenge is an ideal opportunity for residents to discover insects, plants, reptiles, and animals at their residences, be it in a flat, or a garden.

‘We encourage residents to have fun with the lockdown City Nature Challenge this year. It is one way of keeping busy and a healthy distraction. All that is required from participants to take part is to download the iNaturalist app and to search for and record all plants that are growing on their own and the wild organisms that live in and around their houses and properties. Keep it simple, think big or small, whether it be plants in your garden; birds that are attracted to your property or even mosquitoes; spiders, snails or weeds. The goal is to ignite some interest in nature and the environment even during lockdown when we are all requested to stay at home, and inside. Those with gardens can turn a search for bugs into a mini adventure for the kids,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt.

The City Nature Challenge will not be a competition this year, but rather a community building exercise during a period where most global cities are adhering to various lockdown restrictions in response to COVID-19. It is an opportunity for Capetonians and the rest of the world to take part in one challenge over the same weekend as they discover their natural environments at home.

‘I see this challenge as a means of connecting with some form of nature to relieve the stress and anxiety we are all facing at the moment. It is also a time to unite and collaborate with an interesting digital community of citizen and community scientists around the world. Residents can celebrate the simplicity of nature no matter where they are during the lockdown – be it from their gardens, balconies, windows, or any area which attracts some life,’ said Alderman Nieuwoudt.

The City has created a helpful checklist of species commonly found in gardens and suburban areas during autumn in Cape Town. This can be downloaded from the iNaturalist website.

Some of the plants, birds, insects, reptiles and mammals that can be commonly found during Cape Town’s autumn season include the:

·         Cape Honeysuckle and Bietou Bush flower;

·         Red-Eyed Dove and Southern Double-collared Sunbird

·         Cape Autumn Widow Butterfly

·         Marbled Leaf-Toed Gecko

·         Cape Rain Spider and the White Italian Snail

There are many ways to look for nature in your home and backyard – find insects by looking under rocks and logs, or create a ‘beat sheet’ by placing either a pan, sheet or box under a tree or bush to collect the flightless bugs that gather there.

In order to participate in the challenge, participants need to download the app, register and share their observations by uploading all their findings on the app. Observations can be recorded anywhere within the City of Cape Town borders. Participants also stand a chance to win some spot prizes.

Participants may record any plant, animal, fungi, slime, mould or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses) found in Cape Town and should not forget to record the location of their findings.

‘I want to remind all to please adhere to the lockdown rules, and to participate in the City Nature Challenge from their homes,’ said Alderman Nieuwoudt.

Please find the species checklist via the following link:

The iNaturalist website also provides helpful tips on doing the challenge from home via the following links:,)

For more information, contact Eleanor Hutchings at or Tony Rebelo at or visit

Sewage spill

23 March 2020

Please be advised that a sewage spill was detected to be coming down the Langevlei Canal this morning (23/03/20) and entering the Sand river canal. The issue was traced to a pump station upstream and rectified however untreated effluent has entered the system and will soon enter the main Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve waterbody.

Bioenzymes are being applied to the effluent in the Sand river and we shall continue monitoring the spill to ascertain it’s extent and severity but in the interim, we are advising users to exercise caution and avoid the northern sections and shoreline of the Zandvlei waterbody until further notice.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Please distribute the above message to your constituents and contacts for dissemination.

Kind regards,

Kyran Wright

Reserve Manager: Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve


Please be advised that, as the Management Authority for Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve and according to R6(e) of the Regulations for the Proper Administration of Nature Reserves (GNR 99 of 8 February 2012), we shall be CLOSING THE GATED ACCESS SECTIONS OF ZANDVLEI ESTUARY NATURE RESERVE to all members of the public until further notice, as per the direction of the City Manager. 

The closure shall apply to the Northern section of the Reserve (Bird Sanctuary), Park Island and the Zandvlei lookout (formerly known as the Rendezvous). The purpose of this closure is as a precautionary measure to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic. These areas are indicated in red on the map overleaf. 

This decision has not been taken lightly and we are aware that the above actions will cause disruptions and inconvenience to Reserve users. We are entering an unprecedented time that calls for greater awareness and teamwork. It is incumbent upon all of us to support the national effort to reduce infections. 

It is important to note that the Open Access sections of the Reserve and waterbody remain open for use by the public. 


Please be advised that due to the global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus, the President of the Republic’s pronouncement on 15 March and directives from the City Manager, we are unfortunately closing the following sections of Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve to members of the public, effective immediately, until further notice:

–          Northern section (Bird Sanctuary)

–          Park Island

–          Zandvlei Lookout (formerly known as the Rendezvous)

This decision has not been taken lightly and we are aware that the above actions will cause disruptions and inconvenience to Reserve users. We are entering an unprecedented time that calls for greater awareness and teamwork. It is incumbent upon all of us to support the national effort to reduce infections.

It is important to note that the Open Access sections of the Reserve and waterbody remain open for use by the public. Please note the official press release below and Protected Area Notice attached.

Kyran Wright

Reserve Manager: Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve

Biodiversity Management Branch

Environmental Management Department

Physical Address: Coniston Park, Coniston Avenue, Steenberg

Dream Zandvlei visioning exercise

Workshop held at the Zandvlei Sports Club on Thursday 7 February 2019, facilitated by Alan Cameron from Places Plus. The take home message is included here and the full notes is included as a pdf.

The requirement for security of tenure for the Zandvlei Sports Centre, to enable a pivot in how Zandvlei is managed was the single most supported idea at the visioning exercise held at the sports centre. About 22 area stakeholders attended, representing a variety of interest groups and active citizens from the area.

The visioning exercise asked individual participants to share and then prioritise their hopes, but also their fears, for the Zandvlei area so that goals could be set and risks identified. Pink and green dots showed individuals’ primary and secondary priorities while yellow and orange dots showed likely risks and those with a large potential impact.

Several themes arose from the exercise, namely:

  1. Governance
  2. Community involvement
  3. Environmental and ecological

1. Governance

The idea of having security of tenure (5 pink, 5 green) was shared as it may provide a base of operations, a consistent presence in the vlei that could generate activity and be used to host activities and raise funding. This stability would provide a base for more adequate and effective management by the city (4 green) of the whole area.

Adequate funding (2 green) for projects and improvements was seen as necessary, and tied to participants’ level of participation and energy (2 green). Research-driven policy and management would improve meaningful implementation. Using a public private partnership model to effect change was also mentioned. Crime (3 orange, 1 yellow) and traffic congestion (2 yellow) were seen as plausible risks.

2. Community involvement

Community involvement (6 green); adequate, active stewardship and a sense of ownership by user community (4 green) tie directly into the call for: an overall masterplan (2 pink, 2 green); how these communities’ impact on irrigation as well as how development and sewage influences water quality (2 pink). This community involvement would then contribute to a sense of ownership and pride in young people, which would especially be visible in how they engage with visitors. Important tasks were identified as: re-engineering of the mouth and sewage line, solutions to backyard-dwellers’ waste management, and creating paths for cycling, walking and canoeing.

The most plausible risks identified were the City losing the ability to monitor ecological quality (4 yellow) leading to severe pollution (5 yellow) and surprise at the crash of the False Bay fishing industry due to the fish-nursery properties of the Zandvlei estuary being destroyed (4 yellow).

3. Environmental/ Ecological

A functional estuary (3 pink, 4 green) with the situation under control (6 green) characterized by a plastic-free Zandvlei (4 green) and interconnected and extended water ways (3 green) with circular access routes to and from all communities (1 pink) characterize a Dream Zandvlei.

This environment is impacted most by:

  • research-inspired action (3 green),
  • a mix of habitats and beautiful urban design (2 green),
  • sewage systems that have an alternative to dump into the vlei,
  • and a nature reserve system that works to address over-supply of nutrients, invasive species and plastics.

The fish nursery is nurtured and regular patrols of wetlands prevent and clean weed encroachment.

With a broader biodiversity (2 green) and a more diverse flora and fauna (3 green), integrated sporting facilities (as well as for night-time activities), Zandvlei is well frequented and very popular with a shared sense of ownership among users.

Next steps and recommendations

  1. A meeting with the ward councilor to discuss progress and ask for advice.
  2. A meeting with community members not reached in this first meeting – contacts available through Berenice (ZENR) and Sharon McCallum (Dream Zandvlei group)
  3. Better understand the current tenure of the Zandvlei Sports Centre and investigate alternative arrangements.
  4. Look at donor funding bodies that are aimed at a broad array of interests (youth and sporting development, environmental stewardship and conservation, infrastructure upgrades (re-engineering mouth, sewer line, promenade, sports and toilet facilities).

Water quality monitoring

HELP NEEDED: Calling citizen scientists: We are working on sourcing and interpreting data to give a weekly updated ‘dashboard’ of the water quality of the vlei. We need help on generating the data and a way to embed it in an useful way on the website. Keen to help? Please get in touch: Check out other ways to get involved here.

Something along the lines of 

E.coli levels (big circle coloured red/orange/green)

link to what this means

(one or two other parameters of importance)

Bottom line: Smiley face or sad face

Short description

Salinity measurement method (pdf, 300 kB)

Sewer spill in Sandriver canal

Update: 4 May 2018


Zandvlei water area re-opened to public

The City of Cape Town’s Environmental Management Department has advised that the Zandvlei water area is now open to the public following a short period of closure. As water quality testing results have shown a significant improvement, the City is re-opening the Zandvlei water area to the public for recreational activities, with the precautionary recommendation that water users stay about 50 m away from the inlet of the canal north of the marina. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town has undertaken ongoing water quality testing within the Zandvlei water body since last Friday, 27 April 2018, when the temporary closure of the vlei was effected. Test results made available today, 4 May 2018, has indicated a significant improvement of the water quality to levels that are acceptable as per the national recreational water use guidelines.

The precautionary closure of the water area has therefore been revoked as of today, Friday 4 May 2018. Recreational activities such as canoeing, windsurfing and sailing can therefore continue with the precautionary measure of staying about 50 m away from the inlet of the canal north of the marina (Sand and Landelvei River canal).

The City apologises for any inconvenience caused as a result of the temporary closure of the water area and thanks the public for their cooperation during this period.


Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town

Media enquiries: Julia Wood, Manager: Biodiversity Management Branch, Environmental Management Department, Tel: 084 464 9153, Email:

27 APRIL 2018


Zandvlei water area closed to public until further notice

The City of Cape Town is temporarily closing the Zandvlei water area from today, Friday 27 April 2018, as a precautionary measure following water quality concerns. The closure only applies to recreational activities in the Zandvlei water area, including fishing. Access to the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve and other visitor facilities in the area remain open to the public. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town has undertaken water quality testing at various points within the Zandvlei water body due to water quality concerns, and has concluded today that the water body should be closed to the public as a precautionary measure until further notice.

The closure only applies to recreational activities in the Zandvlei water area, including fishing, but does not prohibit access to the Zandvlei Nature Reserve and other visitor facilities in the area.

The test results showed high levels of faecal coliforms (Escherichia coli) within the water body, which indicates an elevated risk to human health.  The public is therefore advised to avoid all contact with the water at Zandvlei until these levels fall back within national recreational water use guidelines.

The high E. coli count is a result of a sewage spill earlier in the week due to a bulk sewer main collapse, which has subsequently been contained. The City has been monitoring the effect of the sewage spill into the water body and the additional pollutants entering the vlei from the catchment area. The additional pollutants are as a result of the flushing effect of the recent rain after an extended dry period. The results of these water quality tests dictated the decision to apply a precautionary approach for the safety of the residents of Cape Town.

The City will continue to monitor the water quality and expects to see an improvement in these levels soon. In the meantime, signage has been erected advising visitors to the vlei to exercise due caution. The public will be informed once the vlei is safe for recreational use. The City apologises for any inconvenience caused as a result of the closure of the water area and thanks the public for their cooperation during this period.


Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town

Media enquiries: Julia Wood, Manager: Biodiversity Management Branch, Environmental Management Department, City of Cape Town, Cell: 084 464 9153 or Email:

GroundUp article: Sewer pipe collapses and destroys homes (26 April 2018)

Update: Wednesday 25 April 18:00

Water quality
Preliminary results show EXTREMELY high counts of E coli. This is to be expected. We are waiting for an official call from Env Health. In the main vlei water is such that contact recreation should be avoided.

Volumes of spillage
We do not have exact figures but given the size of the pipe this is likely to be large volumes. The Zandvlei mouth was opened on Sunday in response to the spill; from the reserve side there is not much else that can be done.

Sand bank at the mouth / rubble weir
Due to the sand build up at the mouth – the rock weir has been totally buried by sand – there is likely to be minimal flushing with sea water, this will also depend on the rainfall we receive. At this point we estimate at least a week; but E coli levels will drop during this time.”

Update: Tuesday 24 April 10:00 am

The sewage have stopped and the water is looking clear.

As of yesterday at approximately 16h00 over pumping of the collapsed sewer commenced – this eliminates the need for the tankers that were apparently the source of the issue.
The spillage from the sewer was therefore almost completely eliminated from that time onwards, a recent check has confirmed that the overflow has stopped completely.
The contractor is currently sourcing at least one additional pump to act as a standby in case of a breakdown, also to assist with keeping the sewer flowing at peak times.

Whatever contamination found its way into the Sand River canal has long been washed downstream by the rain – it is therefore not feasible to pump out the canal.
We have however make plentiful use of bio-enzymes to attempt to minimise the environmental impact downstream.

The spill was pretty much confined to the Sand River canal – all of the stormwater drains in the area discharge there.

We are constantly monitoring the situation.

Further to this the structures that were over the area of the sewer that has collapsed are being moved, the appointed contractor is currently on site and is commencing repairs.
The primary aim is to make the sewer operational and reduce the dependence on temporary pumps to keep it so.

Also noting with gratitude that the new litter nets managed by residents of Marina de Gama seem to have done a good job of preventing the bulk of the oil slick relating to the spill from entering into the main waterbody.

Notice sent to stakeholders, Monday 23 April 2018.

Dear ZPAAC stakeholders

Brace yourself, this is very bad news.

As most of you know at this stage, there is a sewer spill into the Sandriver canal.

A main sewer pipe collapsed in the Vrygrond Area on Thursday. It is 3m underground. Above ground there is an informal settlement.

The situation was being maintained by pumping with trucks and so no sewage was entering the canals. However there has been violence at Vryground and the trucks which were pumping had to be withdrawn for safety. Sewage is now entering the canals. A contractor has been appointed to repair the canals but we have no details of how long the repairs will take.

This is a sectional pipe en route eastwards; it is a big pipe. It is basically the Southern Suburbs’ sewage.

All the people involved are currently trying to find ways to address this. For the moment the sewage will keep flowing. The mouth was opened on Sunday morning around 09:00. The sand plug at the mouth however means that there will be limited outflow to remove sewage.

Another option is to try dam the canal, but with the volumes involved the advice Dalton received is that it may not be possible.

Please advise all water users to be cautious, this is going to be a LOT of sewage.