City visit: a step towards filling the info gap

Persistent lobbying over many months by the MDGA paid off this week when a high-level delegation of key decision-makers from the City of Cape Town (CoCT) met with members of the MDGA ExCom in the Marina to map the way out of our continuing water crisis.

Lead by Cllr Zahid Badroodien, the newly elected Mayoral Committee member for Water and Sanitation, the 11-strong delegation also included the heads of Reticulation, Pump Stations and Cape Nature.

While emphasising that the MDGA had called the meeting in the spirit of constructive engagement, Richard Midgley, the MDGA ExCom’s Chairman, was forthright in expressing residents’ concerns: “The algae is out of control, our waterways have now been closed for over seven months and we are in a worse position than we were a year ago.”

Point made: Pierre Maritz (left) discusses pump station maintenance with Cllr Zahid Badroodien (centre) and Richard Midgley

“We are not talking here about a public access issue,” continued Richard. “This is a real problem for residents around Zandlvei, particularly in the Marina. The waterways crisis impacts on our members’ lifestyles; makes them question their reasons for choosing to buy and live here; and, worst of all, the situation dramatically affects the value of their properties.”

While acknowledging the wider service delivery challenges facing the CoCT, Richard also pointed out that the MDGA is virtually powerless when it comes to keeping the Marina’s 1,352 households fully informed about what is happening on Zandvlei. “On our members’ behalf, we have a single purpose for calling this meeting: to understand the causes underlying the sewerage spills and to learn how the CoCT plans to remedy the situation so that our waterways can be reopened and kept clean and safe. A lack of information simply exacerbates residents’ frustrations.”

In the same co-operative spirit, members of the CoCT delegation took turns to outline the measures that their departments are currently taking to reinforce and maintain Cape Town’s water and sanitation infrastructure – and stop sewerage from entering Zandlveli.  

Among other positives, all sewerage lines in Muizenberg, Constantia, Bergvliet, Meadowridge and Tokai have now been relined and the CoCT is currently assessing quotes from contractors to finish cleaning lines in Lavender Hill and Seawinds. Relining has been instrumental in eliminating sand from the sewerage system, preventing pump station failures and damage. All CoCT’s pump stations are also being retrofitted with grids to prevent damage while manholes are being fitted with covers to prevent illegal dumping. Issues with pump station telemetrics have also been resolved. In addition, Pierre Maritz, Manager, Reticulation, committed to forwarding service/maintenance records for all 10 pump stations in the Marina to the MDGA office. Overall, the CoCT has committed a significant capital budget to pump station upgrades and pipe replacements for this financial year and most of this budget has been allocated to Zandvlei.

Potentially, the most important action arising from the meeting was a commitment to setting up a dedicated technical sub-committee to address the ongoing sewerage spills into Zandvlei and the extremely high nutrient load that is feeding the current algae blooms. Not a silver bullet or magic wand, perhaps, But certainly a step in the right direction.

Commenting on this advance, Richard Midgley said: “Regular meetings with the City’s most technically skilled decision-makers will go a long way to applying pressure on the authorities to deal decisively with the problems that we currently face.

“We fervently hope that the spirit of partnership we took away from the meeting will lead to effective long-term solutions for Marina residents, our neighbouring communities and the precious environment that we share.”

“Meanwhile,” added Richard, “on behalf of Marina residents, I would like to extend our sincere thanks to all members of the CoCT delegation for taking the time to hear our concerns and commit to finding solutions.”

The MDGA will continue to persist in its efforts towards ongoing constructive and productive engagements with CoCT on behalf of all Marina residents.

CoCT delegation in full

Cllr Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation; Abdulla Parker, Manager, Stormwater and Sustainability; Pierre Maritz, Manager, Reticulation; Abongile Duna, Manager, Pump Stations; Sigqibo Nogaya, Head, Reticulation Wastewater Conveyancing; Andrew Taylor, Sewer Engineer, Water and Sanitation Department; Alistair Lee, Engineering Hydrologist, Project Manager; Dalton Gibbs, Regional Manager South, Nature Conservation; Kyran Wright, Manager, Zandvleie Estuary Nature Reserve; Elethu Zembe, Catchment Planner; and City of Cape Town’s Odwa Ndesi.

At last: an app that reports by-law breakers

If you want to report a by-law infringement – such as party noise, building noise, events companies operating without an events permit, businesses operating without a business license, and so on – here’s what to do – and what not to do:

  • Telephone the central call centre on 021 480 7700, stating clearly that you are calling from Marina da Gama – not Muizenberg. This is a central call centre. It is run jointly by the City of Cape Town and Law Enforcement and it is separate from the main City of Cape Town call centre.
  • Specifying Marina da Gama will ensure your complaint is forwarded to the correct Law Enforcement office. In our case, the correct office is located below the overhead walkway at the mouth of Zandvlei in Muizenberg.
  • State your complaint clearly, ask for a reference number and keep it in a safe place.
  • Law Enforcement has assured us that we can expect a timely response. However, if you do not receive a satisfactory response, forward your complaint and reference number to the Marina da Gama Association office on 021 788 3311 and we will pursue the matter on your behalf.
  • Do not call SAPS to report a by-law infringement. As a rule, SAPS deals exclusively with crime; Metro Police deals 50/50 with crime and by-law infringements; Law Enforcement spends 80% of its time on by-law infringements and 20% of its time on crime.

What the law says about noise
The relevant Act governing the by-law legislation on noise is the Provincial Gazette Western Cape Control Regulation Act of 2013, Section 25. According to these regulations, there is no longer a time restriction on noise, excluding on-site construction. The restriction used to apply up to 23h00 in the evening. Now, however, there is a restriction on noise at any time of the day or night. The regulations state that ‘a person may not make a disturbing noise or allow a disturbing noise to be caused.’ In other words: at no time during the day or night may a disturbing noise be made for longer than 10 minutes at a level of 7Dba or above.

On-site construction work can only be carried out between the hours of 08h00 and 17h00 Monday to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturday. No work is allowed on Sunday. The first fine for breaking this regulation is R1 000, the second fine is R2 000, and the third offence is automatically a court offence.

Minutes and portfolio reports (January 2022)

Minutes of EXCOM – MARINA DA GAMA ASSOCIATION held on 11th January 2022 at the Offices of the MDGA at 18h00  

Welcome to all with no apologies. Present – Patrick Mc Kenna, Paul Higgins, Richard Midgley, Nick Bode, Graham Barratt, Peter Allen, Ulf Martz, Dominique Erasmus, Tharwah Davids

Unanimous Approval of Minutes of 14th December 2021

3 Portfolio reports
3.1 Treasurer
Bank Balances
3.2 Communications
3.3 Waterways
3.4 Events
3.5 Archcom
3.6 Standards
3.7 Infrastructure
3.8 Parks and Gardens
3.9 Security
3.10 General

      4)   Matters Arising

            A)   Debate on Policy for Distressed Members – ongoing and proposals to be redrafted

            B)   Subscription increase 2022 10% – R70 to R770 – unanimously approved

            C)   Appoint Tharwah Davids as added signatory on Debt Collecting Summons’s – unanimously approved

            D)   Salary Increase Robbie and Marcia unanimously approved according to inflation and performance

            E)   Traffic Calming measures – Exco voted unanimously for UM/DE to continue engagement with City on calming measures – Battleridge, Shearwater and Eastlake Drive

            F)   Vrygrond Housing Development – MDGA submitted objections and suggestions to consultants – await response

            G)   MDGA interactions with CoCT regarding Kingfisher, Sewerage leaks. Many residents have been inundating the Office with suggestions as to what should happen. – We are very well represented on ZPAAC – and ZPAAC are busy compiling a detailed and comprehensive Legal Directive against the CoCT – regarding all matters of Waterways – sewerage spills, human errors and unacceptable maintenance of Pump Stations. We believe this is the correct forum to air our grievances and to demand City action. As a  CoCT Statutory Body, with multi-party representation, credible professionals with sound technical abilities, reformatted into a lively working body – now meeting Monthly – this body includes the CoCT as well as all surround residential bodies and carries far more      weight than an individual body like the MDGA.

            H)   DE has complete set of event permits – and after studying – will be shared so we are well prepared with correct documentation for the events planned in 2022.

            I)    GB – Standards have cleaned up a lot of longstanding incidents – cars standing on streets, painting and repairs over December NB suggested a checklist for incidences – date reported action withing 48 hours etc.

5)   Date of next meeting – 8th February 2022 at 18h00 at MDGA Offices

PORTFOLIO REPORTS

WATERWAYS – NICK BODE

This has been a trying time for all Marina Da Gama residence!! When one should be outside enjoying the holidays, enjoying the waterways, enjoying the summer sun, we were forced to stay indoors and off the water. 

This was due to the unpleasant sight of the copious amounts of algae that had built up due to the high nutrition content caused by all of the sewage spills, that the Vlei has experienced, over the last six months. In these trying times a few residents joined hands and tested out new ways in clearing the algae with the help of Kyran and his team from Zandvlei nature reserve. We had to do this as the Kingfisher was not allowed to be used because of red tape from SAMSA. 

With the algae accumulating daily, a biological disaster had to be saved. Zandvlei Nature Reserve pushed hard against SAMSA again and again explaining how important it was to get the Kingfisher back out onto the water and as soon as possible. Zandvlei nature reserve applied for an exemption and at the last minute an exemption was granted under new rules and requirements. This fantastic news means the Kingfisher has been seen out and about clearing the waterways yet again. 

They are clearing out all of the worst affected areas first and once those areas are relatively clean, they will start working from the south and making their way north as the prevailing wind will keep pushing the floating algae to the northern shores. Residents are still encouraged to keep clearing their 2 m.

A massive thank you to Kyran and his team for working over the holidays with the Marina Da Gama Association and other volunteers at manually removing the algae with nets, rakes and even their hands! 

The Vlei / waterways remain closed and I’m sure after the first ZPAAC meeting of the year we will get the latest E.coli which we will share with you ASAP

COMMUNICATIONS – PATRICK McKENNA

The Communications team had a busy festive season keeping residents updated with various events online and through our email newsletter. Our Facebook group is becoming a well-used platform among members expressing concerns about the algae situation; as such, it demands constant monitoring.  

Throughout 2022, we will continue to create and publish content for all our communication channels: the website, blog, email newsletter and Facebook.

Meanwhile, we are in the process of finalising the design and artwork for printing the residents’ welcome booklet.

INFRASTRUCTURE – ULF MARTZ

  • Overview

Activities during December 2021 involved submission of comments to the Environmental consultant involved with the Vrygrond Housing Development.

  • Asset Management

CoCT Procurement of new weed harvester – See Waterways Report.

Still awaiting asset register in terms of municipal services from the CoCT.

  • Roads and Stormwater

Various correspondence addressed to the CoCT relating to the Marina da Gama Road conditions and status of the M3-M5 link were sent to City officials.

  • Infrastructural Development

Zandvlei Expressway/Parkway (M3-M5) link road, refer to the CoCT Southern District Develop Plan:

Attendance to City’s Draft IDP 2022 scheduled on 12 January 2022.

Vrygrond Housing Development – comments submitted.

  • Bridges

The BMS city asset register for MdG will need to be obtained.  

  • Water and Sanitation

The recent malfunctioning of sewer pump stations has contributed to spillage in the Zandvlei waterways as reported at the ZPAAC meeting held recently. This has contributed to the increased algae growth – refer to Waterways Report.

  • Electricity Supply

Load shedding by ESKOM continues to have an impact on the CoCT sewer pump stations’ operations.

Road accident in Uitsig, resulting in a resident’s wall being damaged has been recorded. Introduction of Traffic calming measures to be applied for with the City of Cape Town.  

  • Pedestrian Flows

The high pedestrian flow on Eastlake Drive using the roadway is considered hazardous for motorists. Consideration to provide appropriate sidewalks should be addressed with the CoCT.  A formal submission will be prepared.

STANDARDS – GRAHAM BARRATT

There will be no report for Standards for above meeting.

What little happened in Dec. up to closure of MDG office will be included in the Jan. Report for    8th Feb. Exco meeting.

SECURITY – PETER ALLEN

       Triggers received – 46
       Vehicles involved – 16

       Alleged Crime Types:

  • Burglary residential
  • Drug Dealing
  • Poaching
  • Gang Affiliation
  • Robbery Armed
  • Robbery Business
  • Robbery Common
  • Robbery residential
  • Suspicious MV

       Outcome:

  • 25 Triggers; the vehicle was out of the area before SSP’s arrived
  • 19 Triggers; the vehicle was followed out of the area by SSP’s
  • 1 Triggers; the vehicle was involved in an accident
  • 1 Trigger; the vehicle left on a Flatbed Tow Truck
UitsigCoot DrATT HB20.12.21During the past five daysNoClient saw this morning that someone tried to force open the sliding door. She was last at the sliding door five days ago.
Park IslandPark Island WayTheft15.12.21Between 20h00 and 21h00Yes MuizenbergWallet stolen from desk

EVENTS – DOMINIQUE ERASMUS

Both the kids party and the bridge fair carols were a great success in December 2021. Feedback      from residents have been mostly good. R2490 was raised for the park, we need to decide where that will be spent please. 

I have applied for necessary forms from COCT for stage and food truck permits, so that they will be in place before our next large event.

We welcome thoughts on doing a “Marina Ultimate Braai Master event” in March? Perhaps at the Camp grounds or permitted braai area in Marina.

PARKS AND MAINTENANCE

Gardeners on leave until 10th January – whereby we expect another year of advancement with    Gardens and the Beautification of our Public Open Spaces. We expect the year to bring boreholes, and spray systems to irrigate some open spaces, starting in Uitsig and moving south.

TREASURER, COMPLIANCE AND LEGAL – THARWAH DAVIDS

Bank Balances:
Current account
Archcom
Money Market
Total


R19 401
R317 648
R613 708
R950 757

ZPAAC points the way out of the vlei crisis

Nick Bode, who heads up the MDGA ExCom’s Waterways portfolio, reviews recent developments on Zandvlei and looks at how we move towards a sustainable, long-term answer to the current problems.

We’re under no illusions that that this has been a trying few months for all Marina da Gama residents. During a time when we should all be outside enjoying the holidays, enjoying the summer sun, enjoying the waterways, we have been forced to stay away from the canals and off the vlei. 

The reason: an explosive build-up of algae fed by the water’s unusually high nutrition content caused, in turn, by a series of sewage spills over the last six months. All that plus a broken-down Kingfisher and persistently high e. coli levels.

As I will explain, the MDGA is simply not in a position to tackle the root causes of this ongoing crisis on its own. More of that later. For now, a huge thanks to the people who took steps to tackle the symptoms over the holidays. Among others, they include resident volunteers and members of the MDGA ExCom, who joined forces with Kyran Wright and his team from the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve (ZENR) to trial new ways of clearing algae while the Kingfisher was out of action again. This time, the problem was not down to mechanical failure. Instead, the South African Marine Safety Authority (SAMSA) stepped in to immobilise the Kingfisher in a tangle of red tape.

Undaunted, Kyran and his algae busters used a net drawn by a motor-powered dinghy combined with rakes, bare hands and raw elbow grease to produce some dramatic results in some of the worst affected canals – as the photos have proved. Inevitably, however, the faster they worked, the faster the algae grew back.

With an environmental disaster looming, the MDGA ExCom threw its support behind ZENR as it pushed back hard against SAMSA with demands for an exemption to the Kingfisher’s red tape requirements. Under new rules, the exemption was granted just in time. As a result, the Kingfisher has once again been out on the waterways over the last couple of weeks – and long may it last.

But even this part of the story was not without its dramas. Just before he was due to return to work, the City of Cape Town (CoCT)’s Kingfisher skipper was forced to isolate after several of his family members caught COVID-19. Once again, Kyran Wright came to the rescue. Swapping his estuary manager’s sun hat for his Kingfisher skipper’s cap, he spent the next few days working flat out over the holiday period to clear the build-up.

Thankfully, the CoCT’s Kingfisher crew is now back at work and focusing on the worst affected areas. Once they are relatively algae-free, the weed eater will start working from the south of the vlei and make its way north as the prevailing wind keeps pushing the floating algae to the northern shores.

So much for tackling the symptoms. The waterways remain shut, the sewerage spills persist, the algae is rampant. How are we going to eliminate the causes of the current – seemingly endless – crisis?

There was recent talk on Facebook about following the example of residents living around the Woodbridge Lagoon in Milnerton by launching a legal fight against the CoCT. This approach is just one option and it is not the one we prefer. For s start, the MDGA is prohibited under its constitution from spending more than R100 000 (adjusted by annual inflation) on any single action or item without members’ approval. At today’s rates, that sum would hardly cover the cost of buying tea-break biscuits for the duration of any hearing.

In our opinion, the best strategy involves maintaining close links with CoCT decision makers. As we report elsewhere in this week’s newsletter, a delegation of these City employees visited the Marina this week. They included Cllr Zahid Badroodien, the newly elected Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation as well as the heads of Reticulation, Pump Stations and Cape Nature.

In parallel, we are throwing our support behind the Zandvlei Protected Areas Advisory Committee (ZPAAC). We believe ZPAAC is the correct forum in which to air our grievances and lobby for CoCT action. It is a CoCT statutory body with multi-party representation and credible professionals who have proven technical abilities.

Along with a number of other Marina-based groups, we are very strongly represented on ZPAAC, which is busy compiling a detailed and comprehensive legal directive against the CoCT, Milnerton-style. The draft directive covers every possible cause of our current crisis – from human errors and defective telemetry systems to sewerage spills and faulty pump station maintenance.

ZPAAC has recently been reconfigured into a dynamic working body that now holds monthly meetings bringing together all residents’ groups surrounding Zandvlei. As such, it has far more clout than an individual body like the MDGA.

The next ZPAAC meeting is scheduled for this week. I look forward bringing you a full report on the proceedings and action points as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping for some good news on the E. coli levels in the near future!

Another memorable Marina Christmas

On the weekend of 18-19 December, residents from around the Marina put aside the stresses of a challenging year to play their part in making our traditional festive events another memorable success. As well as our children’s Christmas party and carols, this year’s community celebrations also featured The Bridge Fair, which proved very popular.

marina-carols

This year’s programme was the result of a true team effort between members of the MDGA’s ExCom, notably, our Events portfolio holder Dominique Erasmus, and other residents, particularly Valerie Benson. A special thanks!

Lakeside-based magician Michael Barta kicked off the children’s Christmas party with a spellbinding opening act that left his young audience enthralled and totally engaged.

The closure of the waterways meant Santa Claus, aka David Muller, was unable to arrive at the party by pedalo. Undaunted, he made a dramatic entrance in Janine and Ryan Avery’s shiny red Mustang after driving around the Marina, ringing his bell and inviting youngsters to join the fun.

The celebrations continued on Sunday, starting with The Bridge Fair followed by the Christmas carols.

marina-da-gama-christmas

This year’s Christmas carols band comprised Mike English on acoustic guitar and MC duties; Mike Peters on acoustic guitar; Bryan Jacobs on acoustic guitar; Fanie Zondagh on keyboards; Alicia Thornton on lead female vocals; Dawne Haddad on saxophone; and Jerome Swartz on bass guitar. The event was opened by Lauren Warner, a Marina resident
and professional singer, who blew her audience away with a rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Lauren was joined by so many children, who came up to the stage to sing Away In a Manger, Jingle Bells and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. Bagpiper, James Mitchell, ended off the evening in traditional Marina style.

Roll of honour

A big thanks on behalf of the community to the people behind the scenes. Among many others, our roll of honour includes – in no particular order – the MDGA ExCom’s Nick Bode and members of the TechX sound team; Robbie Johnston from the MDGA office; all The Bridge Fair vendors; Shellan Jeffries, Andy Rumbelow and Seef, which kindly matched all donations from The Bridge Fair and put them towards upgrading Uitsig Park.

Thanks also to the musicians and singers. Here, we’d like to make pay a special tribute to long-time Marina resident, Mike English. Mike has lived in the Marina for 34 years, participated in the carols for eight years and led the carols band for the last five years. Sadly, Mike and his wife, May, are moving to St Helena Bay shortly. We wish them both much love and happiness in their new home.

Finally, we’d like to pay tribute to all the Marina residents, who wholeheartedly embraced this year’s slightly different carols format. A big thanks to you all for such a fantastic turnout!