City leaflet gives low-down on waterways

With so much – often contradictory – information circulating about the current state of our waterways, nailing down the facts can be a challenge. So, if you could do with some expert guidance on the fundamental principles at play, Zandvlei: Factors Concerning Water Level Management could be the document you’ve been looking for.

Originally published by the City of Cape Town (CoCT) in 2007, this highly informative leaflet was written by Martin Thompson, a former CoCT engineer and chairperson of the Sand River Catchment Forum for many years, now retired. It provides facts and a few surprises about flooding, salinity, revetment stability, fish migration and recreation. Did you know, for example, that back in 2007, opening and closing the Zandvlei sandbar using mechanical diggers cost R20 000 per cycle? Securing the budget to pay for this essential work took extensive lobbying.

Another beautiful Marina da Gama sunset.

Although the MDGA office held copies of the leaflet, it has largely disappeared from circulation. Appropriately so, perhaps. After all, times have changed and new factors have come into play. Others factors, however, remain the same. So, thanks to Park Island resident, Cherry Giljam, for bringing the leaflet to our attention again.

Cherry, who has been involved with conservation, environmental and social initiatives in the Marina for decades, explains that more research has been carried out on the Sand River catchment area than any other in the country.  “The problems we face today have been around since the Marina was constructed,” she says. ”They may vary over time, but the underlying principles remain the same. Understanding them helps to keep the debate about solutions constructive.”

That debate continues as we work alongside the CoCT and other stakeholders to prioritise people’s various and differing needs without compromising the wellbeing of this unique estuary.