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).

Dream Zandvlei – members wishlist

An excerpt from the minutes of the ZPAAC working meeting held on 17 January 2018. In due course this will be regrouped per topic and worked into a detailed, timelined subsidiary plan to the management plan. Please add your thoughts and comments below!

The reasoning is that we need significant amounts of funding, which can only realistically be obtained through private-public partnership and that requires significant economic incentive. This requires a strategy that likely includes commercial development.

The input from the meeting participants are noted below. Going forward, DG noted that many of the desired things are already legally required and built into the management plans. BV noted that this is encouraging for investment. The risk of irresponsible development is limited because of extensive legislation and a vibrant local community. Enforcement of basic rules like fishing equipment and public order policing is challenging.

DG suggested after the meeting that the management plan is vague, and that more detailed subsidiary plans are needed with timelines and defined objectives. These include specific topics, like invasive flora, development, sediment management schedules, littertrap and litter management etc. DG, BV and the new reserve manager will meet and formulate these with input from the ZPAAC.

Obtaining funding for these plans to supplement city budgets is a full time exercise, GL noted we need a full time fundraiser. GL developed a job description for this. To pay the salary for this person, BV suggests entering the Dream Zandvlei into global competitions, for example. GL shared the #cocreate design festival as example, after the meeting.  It would be great to get a landscape architect volunteer on board for the visualisation.

Preamble: Andy: sewer line: if moved make a dramatic change, but doesn’t bring it back to natural, because it’s so constrained. But it is likely the best we can do.
Can we put the sewer pipe below the low spring tide? Drop 2m? May cause small leaks, would require an additional pump station. The most expensive part is the power line to the pump station. The sewage from Clovelly, St. James, Muizenberg, Lakeside goes through this pipe.


Rebuild estuary roadbridge – traffic, restore canals,

More natural estuary mouth – seem to fit well with the estuary roadbridge

Build the Steenberg extension at the bottom of the M5. If this road is landscaped properly, it would still be an environmental asset. – bridge over railway line there. Allow to develop the northern part of the reserve better, currently underutilized.

Environmental reserve, platformed tented camp. – Can get to this nature reserve by train!

Perhaps café, open on weekends.

The old campsite revamped, including a very special amenity centre, special sort of restaurant (like Harbour house)

Source to Sea pathways – connecting the catchment (good already in Constantia valley, Tokai), have started in Muizenberg and Lakeside, need to connect them in Westlake, and consider issues of safety. It’s a short distance to connect to Kirstenbosch

Water quality,

An enhanced aesthetic value to Cape Town

A financial audit of what the estuary is worth from a fishing perspective.

Educationally worth optimized.

Marketing programme for students and learners, learn, understand, take ownership of this area.

Set of behavioural rules – a code of conduct for how people should behave in this environment.

Better signage



Investment, investors

A mini waterfront, having a market, restuarants, not too upmarket

Nothing noisy



Look at what is already happening, working with that rather than designing something new

Investors look at maximizing profit at the exclusion of the people who live here, so need to manage that, keep the people and council involved.


David Roux

The banks around the sea cadet base, the eastern side of the yacht club, something permanent. The sand bag idea worked well.

Better utilization of areas – e.g. next to caravan park, e.g. light environmental centre, camping centres

Move on the bowling green



Source to Sea is very important, creating connectivity out of the vlei, drawing people in.

Security concerns follow this,

Also False Bay source to sea efforts. But we need to open up the community. The more people using it, the safer it will become, and yes we need to upgrade the security.

Improving awareness. Not just this community, but everywhere, catchment management, catchment and upwards. Strong community involvement.

Improved amenities, making use of space that isn’t used properly Look at what GreenPoint park has achieved.

Sufficient budget from council for management. Not only from a staffing perspective.

Office facilities, education centre (co-working spaces) that budget need to be allocated

Naturalisation of the litter traps

Don’t: harden the edges of the vlei. A hybrid system is important.

Connectivity to the mountain, from a natural flow of flora and fauna.



The management plan – 2011. The proclamation has now formally been proclaimed. These ideas are only ideas until they are encapsulated into the plan.

“Zandvlei usage is a valuable component of the CT network. Appropriately used for education … “

These ideas are not short on thought or on plans – these are in place! Institutionally we are one of the better managed in the Western Cape.

Code of conduct – we have a recreational water use by-law Section 23

Economic study was done in early 2000 – in terms of property values, link economic benefits to natural systems

Suggest: A natural function estuary cycle bearing in mind we are in an impacted cycle. Fix the water levels etc. It will always be a ‘novel ecosytem’

Manage the impact – big one is water quality, solid waste and chemicals. Not that badly affected by water quantity.

The system needs to be better integrated in the surrounding environment, e.g. the caravan park has no connection to the external environment.

Zandvlei is very well studied.

All the work has been done! It is ripe for investment.



Operating as close to a naturally functioning estuary as possible. We need to do remedial dredging

Relocate sewer pipe

Allow water to fluctuate more

Maintain passage to allow fish

Water depth at about 1.5m at spring tide

The money and budget to achieve these



The destruction of Zandvlei as a fishing nursery

Motorised craft

Urban or industrial development along the normal edge of the vlei


Nutrients, polluted entering from the North

Imbalanced weeds



Similar to Cherry’s

Royal Bridge road needs to be triple its present span

The promenade walkway needs to come down – this is the part that constricts the mouth

Open up the mouth to four times it’s current width, allow it to self-regulate

Is in the plan, but Phase 2 onwards need to be implemented

Need a full-time fundraiser

Elegant, big windows restaurant that has great benefit from the sunset.



All my points covered

Having one representative in the city to deal with



Children to engage with nature, sport

Adequate management

Sensitively and appropriate

Non-motorised boating


Awareness – showcase eco stuff

The by-laws are there, but difficult to enforce them – need manpower and money – Dalton: the new by-law gives users the ability to manage their own by-laws



Water reticulation of the ends of the waterways (Boksburg has a mobile unit to reticulate this water)

(Ask Tamsin about law of taking water from vlei to sell)

Fishing – endangered – Chapter 3. Better enforcement. More security officers, more staff.

More notice board. Better signage. (That doesn’t get stolen in two hours)

We need full time law enforcement – lobby local council! In Zandvlei and in Zeekoevlei. It is an important recreational space and need law enforcement (only the beaches seem to have them)

Walkway between Uitsig waterway and  the <> – Sandriver, that boom gate is not working to prevent undesirable traffic (only for emergency)

Agriwaste – diffuse pollution, pollutants in the ground – integrated nutrient management,



Not have Green algae!

Different weed harvester design? Dalton: tenderized model may have faster turnaround. Privately owned, leased to the city. If the machine is too specialized it may be useless in the near future.



World class water (sports) tourism destination

Vibrant fish

Vibrant birds

Nutrient managed

Softened banks, rehabilitated riverbeds

Softened catchment – WSD

Clear waters

Ferry fun stuff between caravan park and sports club

Zip line


Dynamic mouth management – vibrant estuarine habitat

Promenade, night time walks, LED lighting (not light pollution), perhaps powered through wetland/microbial fuel cells (MFCs)

Dredged vlei, sediment used for award winning architecture and landscape architecture

Lots of otters!

A new “Otter trail” including sections of the Hoerikwaggo

Safe hiking

Vibrant community – also including the “homeless” to live the life they are comfortable with

Multifunctional, productive spaces

More animals, e.g. eland

Science! High tech integrated but also educational, it’s tech, but it’s not about the tech, it’s about the people.

Inclusive, resilient

Food gardens, allotment plots? => wider than Zandvlei, incorporate open areas everywhere, extend the green corridor, integrate with the cycle routes, down to Cape Point, up to various places, the V&A, the PHA

Link with the catchment – articulate and visualize the relationship with the catchment

Access and support for multiple activities – horses, dogs cycles, yacht, canoe, fish, integrated, responsible hiking.

Less lawns!

Win awards, world famous

Inclusive also to light industry – showcase the circular economy

Better circulation in Marina da Gama – connect with Capricorn business park, as per the original development plan

“liveable neighbourhoods”

Public-private research, engaged research

Park Island higher profile

Permanent orienteering course(s)

Build community between and within neighbourhoods – e.g. Muizenberg, Lakeside, Westlake and beyond.

Don’t want litter, motorboats


Dream Zandvlei: Meeting with Barry Clark

After the first Dream Zandvlei presentation (18 January 2017), Barry Clark from Anchor Environmental offered to discuss the merits of dredging the vlei, following work they did for the Department of Water Affairs, in collaboration with Aurecon and Southern Waters, on environmental flow requirements for the Zandvlei estuary along with several other systems in the Western Cape. Following this meeting some of the findings from that report was also presented at the Estuary Management Workshop, as reported at a Dream Zandvlei presentation on 15 March 2017.

As part of this work, Barry and his team looked at a number of options for restoring ecological health of Zandvlei including considering merits of dredging the vlei. Bernelle met with him on 27 February 2017.

Barry works in marine and estuary management. The work they were doing was required as part of a Department of Water Affairs classification study on the significant water bodies. The classification study broadly means to decide on a future desired state of health of these bodies, which takes into account its environmental, human, agricultural and industrial impacts. Significant bodies broadly fall along the Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs) and Zandvlei falls in the Berg/Steenberg area. This study will be publicly available once published.

The bodies are classified along 3 levels:
1. Natural
2. Moderately used
3. Fully developed.
Further, the bodies are classified along their current ecological health, where A corresponds to largely natural, and E being completely trashed.

“Zandvlei is probably the third most important estuary in the Berg catchment area”
(First Berg, then Langebaan, then Zandvlei, then Diep…)

“It is critically important that we conserve Zandvlei”
– Barry Clark, Anchor Environmental

Generally water abstraction is a large factor in water bodies, with about 60% of the Berg taken out for human use, for example. Zandvlei, in contrast, does not have a large water use, with it’s current runoff about 95% of the reference (or only about 5% of the water taken away). All the degradation seen in Zandvlei is human related, with a large portion recreational. But it is an estuary that is improving. In 1995 when Barry did his PhD on it, the vlei, especially in the Narrows, was filled with dark sludge. Now it has clean marine sand and an abundance of fish. This is due to good management, and specifically to Joshua Gericke’s input.

“Encouragingly, the transformation of Zandvlei from 1995 to now has been most amazingly good”
– Barry Clark, Anchor Environmental

As part of the classification study, reserve determination studies were done, which include water quality records. The present health of Zandvlei is classified as a ‘D’, about 50% degraded, and the best attainable state is advised as a “C”, given the pressures on the system. This is to acknowledge that the vlei will always have a large human component and cannot return to its natural state for a variety of reasons.

Improvement strategies included four scenarios (to be included in the Dream Zandvlei project):
1. Removing the weir
Removing the current rubble weir is desired for better tidal flow into the estuary. This is predicted to have a modest positive impact on water quality. The importance of water depth for recreational events are acknowledged, but Barry recommends that the weir be managed in a more dynamic way, similar to the mouth opening. It should be removed most of the time, for example in the week when people are less likely to be sailing. An option is to have a movable weir (like a sluice?). This would allow for (even) higher water levels when recreational activities take place, and extensive flushing more often per year, which would improve the water quality and reduce the silt buildup – it’s a potential win-win.
Another alternative to maintain a higher level constantly, especially for the rivets of the Marina da Gama residences is to install weirs where the Marina channels join the main water body.
One complicating factor is a sewer pipe that is currently protected by the existing rubble weir.

2. Restoring habitat
The area most requiring this is the shallow intertidal salt margin, which is currently lined with concrete. Rehabilitating this is not expected to really have an impact on water quality, but it would contribute to the biodiversity of the region.

3. Improving water quality
Difficult because of diffuse urban water runoff, but we spoke about the potential for biological means, biomass cultivation rather than chemical or physical means, – and the importance of harvesting the biomass as a means to remove the nutrients from the system.

4. Dredging
Dredging did not have a positive outcome in this study, but the scenario that was considered was a deep, 1.5m channel through the middle of the water body. The main function of this is to entrain more salt in the system to reduce the growth of invasive grasses. But, through modelling this is predicted to cause stratification in this channel of the more dense salt water, leading to hypoxic conditions.
In retrospect, however, Barry comments that dredging 0.5m everywhere rather than a single deep channel should still invoke a tidal prism allowing for better flushing. This, in combination with a re-think of the weir may yield better results, but needs more hydrodynamic modeling.
A point to mention is the potential impact of dredging on prawn stocks. Dredging sections over longer periods of time would allow the prawns time to adapt and move to new areas. “Artisinal dredging”. – See Port Owen’s set up in the Bergriver.

“The Zandvlei estuary has huge potential as a fish nursery and in terms of biodiversity once the system is restored”

Closing remarks touched on monitoring stations, linking to nutrient inflows into specifically the Westlake Wetlands. The City apparently has about 20 monitoring stations in the Zandvlei catchment. – listed in Candice Haskins’s presentation at the Estuary Management Workshop (notes at the feedback meeting). From Josh, this data gives an indication on the concentrations, but not the total flows and hence total amounts of nutrients incoming. Flowmeters could be a good project here.

We then briefly discussed rehabilitation of the Westlake Wetlands generally, and Barry noted that the city’s preference for the concrete canals is to reduce the risk of backflooding. But he agreed on the need to have the wetland meander to remove nutrients and design for sediment traps, as the sediment holds most of the Phosphorous. Barry agreed that the nutrient levels are a large potential risk, and agreed that if the larger plants (polymechetons??) are successfully removed, this opens up opportunities for algal blooms which are potentially more dangerous. The nutrients need to be captured into biomass and then removed from the system (harvested). If this can be done with economic yield, even better. Bernelle mentioned her work on wastewater biorefineries.

About the Dream Zandvlei Group

The Dream Zandvlei Group is an informal, collaborative collective of individuals working together to improve the Zandvlei Estuary and the catchment leading into it, with specific projects of personal interest, and independent of imposed mandates.

The current projects are mainly focused on installing litter traps in the Zandvlei catchment and promoting awareness of the Estuary through sport.

The core individuals represent several groups, and actively maintain communication between these groups:

The Zandvlei Trust  aims to conserve the indigenous fauna and flora of the Zandvlei and
to enhance this natural resource for the benefit of all  since 1988.

The Zandvlei Protected Areas Advisory Committee (ZPAAC) is a government mandated body and made up of groups and individuals with a common interest in the ongoing management of the vlei.



Dream Zandvlei: Meeting with Sarah Chippendale

Sarah was project manager of the Source to Sea project a year ago. We met on the 4th of March to talk about how her time there influenced what she would like to see in the Zandvlei catchment.

Continue reading “Dream Zandvlei: Meeting with Sarah Chippendale”