In the sewer with City engineer Andrew Taylor

We recently caught up with City of Cape Town (CoCT) engineer Andrew Taylor, who was one of the speakers at a recent public meeting at the Zandvlei Lookout to discuss the state of our waterways. We were particularly keen to know more about the efforts his department is making to bring local sewerage systems up to an acceptable standard and where the Marina fits into the work programme.

At the meeting, you mentioned that CoCT is spending significant sums on our sewerage infrastructure. Is there a figure attached to that investment?

Between July 2019 and June 2021, CoCT allocated approximately R350 million towards upgrading and rehabilitating the sewage network. The Zandvlei-specific figures are as follows:

  • Muizenberg sewer relining – R4 500 000
  • Albertyn Road sewer cleaning – R50 000
  • Axminster Road and Clifton Road sewer cleaning – R1 200 000
  • New pump station in Military Road, Retreat Main refurbishment and re-lining of sewers – R82 000 000

This investment is over and above the regular, day-to-day blockage clearing and other maintenance work.

One of the issues you brought up were the leaking pipes at Surfers’ Corner. Apparently, they were full of holes so sand was coming in and causing blockages. You sent cameras down to inspect and followed up by cleaning out the pipes and covering them with fibreglass socks. We’d would love you to explain this process in more detail.
We clean the pipes thoroughly using high-pressure water jets, circular squeegees and any other appropriate tool. Next, a resin-impregnated tube, the liner, made of felt-like material is either pulled through the inside of sewer line, not on the outside; or inserted using water pressure from manhole to manhole, whichever method best suits the situation. The liner is then inflated with a water balloon and cured over several hours. This balloon is withdrawn once the resin has hardened. This method is known as a cured in place pipe, or CIPP.

How much of the Muizenberg area has undergone this process?
So far, we have covered the beachfront and Atlantic Road as far down as Zandvlei as well as the area on the mountain side of the Main Road. This was by far the largest source of sand infiltrating the sewer system. If all goes according to plan, we will line the Old Village in Muizenberg next, hopefully starting in the coming financial year.

This sounds like a good news story that more people would be interested in knowing about. How long do the pipes last once the fibreglass socks are on – and why does this method work well?
We have used CIPP for at least 25 years and the treated pipes are still 100% functional. The supplier is confident of achieving a 50-year life span. But to quote an internet source: “The warranty covers 50 years, but the lining can last longer than this, even to around 100 years.”

We use CIPP as the costs are now comparable to other methods, there are no joints in the line and, with no excavation involved, it is relatively non-intrusive. It has proved to be impervious to water either entering into or seeping out of the pipe.

What about the Axminster sewer, which also came up at the meeting. After extensive cleaning, is this pipeline now safe?
If by safe you mean there is no danger of flooding or spillages, then yes. We have a high degree of confidence that it has been effectively cleaned. We will, however, monitor it very carefully over the next year for signs of irregular or excessive flow.

What is the pipeline system in Marina da Gama and under the vlei like? Are we in danger of extensive leaks?
Marina da Gama has a relatively low incidence of blockages but has not yet undergone an extensive survey/inspection. The pipeline under the vlei is a cast iron pipe encased in concrete and supported by concrete piles. In 2014, I also lined the pipe using the CIPP method just to make sure there was no impending disaster.

When will the new pump station in Military Road/Seawinds be completed and are we likely to stop having leaks into the Sand River once it is finished?
The new Low Lift pump station is almost completed and should be commissioned by the end of this month. We have already seen a dramatic reduction of sewage flowing into the Sand River and the regular spills will certainly cease. No one can guarantee any mechanical installation. That said, the new station certainly has far better backup systems in place. Load shedding comes to mind here.

It is not only the pump station that has been problematic in the past. The sewer pipeline between Low Lift and Retreat Main has been in a state of collapse for a while, causing several major spills. We rehabilitated this 1200mm pipeline using the CIPP method and re-laid a section as part of the pump station contract. We are now free of blockages and sewer spills from that source, which adds up to a huge success. In addition, we also refurbished the Retreat Main pump station and brought it up to modern standards.

All of these works were executed as part of the Low Lift contract.

Photo: Racine Edwardes

You said that you have two other suburbs to do and then intend to focus on the pipes in Vrygrond. I imagine that is a very big job as the area has grown and there probably isn’t enough infrastructure. What would your plan be there and how would it affect Marina da Gama and Zandvlei?
We are busy cleaning 50km of pipe in the Lotus River before going on to Ocean View. Next, we will cover Seawinds and Lavender Hill, which have a high incidence of blockages. This phase will include as much of Vrygrond as possible if the situation there allows. Please take note that the stormwater system in Vrygrond does not discharge into the Marina or Zandvlei. It flows down to the south.

It is still early days, but we are seeing a reduction in blockages in Lotus River, so we certainly hope to see the same trend wherever else we work. Apart from improving living conditions for residents in these suburbs, the desired effect would be to lower the nutritional and bacteriological load being deposited into the vlei. This is an unknown quantity for us. I do not know if anyone has ever actually measured the end result of such a large operation.

Meet rising crypto art star, Danny Attfield

Last week, our series of profiles on local artists introduced woodturner Shaen Adey. This week we’ve got a few questions for the equally talented and highly unassuming Danny Attfield, who is building a formidable international reputation among fans and (very) serious crypto art collectors.

When did it all start?
In 2014, when I got my first drawing tablet. Back then, however, I preferred drawing by hand because I felt disconnected using the tablet. That changed when I got an iPad Pro in 2018. I started drawing digitally almost full time because it’s a much more intuitive process. I officially started with crypto art at the end of 2018, but only became active last year when I saw a notification for a bid on one of my artworks. 

Can you recall your first sale?
I think I made my first sale at the end of 2018. It wasn’t for a huge amount of money, but I remember being excited anyway!

At what point did you realise your career was really taking off?
Last year, when I released 10 editions of my artwork and they all sold out within an hour. Not long after that, they sold out within minutes.

Who was the first serious collector to buy your work?
I’ve had a few, but one of them is a very famous collector called WhaleShark. He founded a cryptocurrency called $WHALE, which is backed by the artworks he collects, including some of mine. He’s never sold any of them.

You enjoy seeing your name associated with various events and shows in different parts of the world. Can you name any countries where you have made a particularly strong impression?
I have collectors from all over, so I suppose I’ve made an impression to a certain – very small – extent in many countries. But mostly in Sydney, Australia, where my artwork was used to promote an exhibition. There were posters with my work all over the city, which I found incredibly exciting.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Mostly from plants and animals.  Living in Marina Da Gama is incredibly inspiring.  There is so much natural life and beauty all around us. I usually draw as an idea comes to mind and try not to plan too far in advance, otherwise I give myself a block because I overthink.

Could you talk to us about some of the artists you particularly admire?
I admire many digital artists, as well as other crypto artists. I see incredible art all over the internet, which always motivates me to be better and try harder. Some of my favourite crypto artists include Kristy Glas, Adam Fryda, Shelly Soneja, Caroline Dy and Charles Grant. You can find all of them on Twitter.

What about old school artists? Do you have any favourites?
Again,I have many favourites, but especially Chris Riddell and Kerby Rosanes, both of whom are illustrators focusing on line art.

One of the most uplifting aspects of your very uplifting story is the way you are using your success as an artist to help make life a little better for less privileged people, animals and the environment. Perhaps you could tell us about some of the causes you support.
I have donated to a programme run that feeds dogs in Vrygrond. I have also given money to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Seabirds, or SANCCOB.  I’ve donated artworks that have been or will be auctioned off to raise money for various causes. They include an artwork to raise funds for a little girl who is fighting cancer and an artwork for an organisation which supports underprivileged children. I plan to plant trees in the Marina. Recently, I released a collaboration between myself and a company called Hitch, which will offset a lifetime’s worth of CO2 by protecting forests and planting mangrove trees in Madagascar.

What criteria do you use when deciding whether to support an initiative or cause?
Previously, I just said yes to almost everything, but now I’m realising that I can’t commit to all the projects people offer me. I’ll usually accept if they are for a good cause.

Digital artist. Crypto artist. What’s the difference?
A digital artists uses computers, iPads and other technology to create their artworks. A crypto artist uploads their artworks onto the Blockchain. Their artwork is normally digital, but there’s no limit and it could be anything.

Finally, what’s your main ambition as a crypto artist?
To be able to survive as an artist and do as much as I can for the community and the environment. I believe we all have an obligation to help where we can.  

See more, read more, hear more
A Google search for Danny will throw up almost 75,000 results. We’ve narrowed the choice down to her Twitter account, where you can view her images; a highly engaging podcast she recorded through the Whale Community; and a fascinating article that argues, with some conviction, that Danny is rewriting history.

(2) Media Tweets by Daniella Attfield 💯 (@DaniellaDoodles) / Twitter

NFT Artist Fireside Chat w/ HeatherHz & Artist Daniella Attfield – YouTube

Crypto Artist Daniella Attfield Rewrites History Through NFTs – BeInCrypto

Shaen celebrates the raw beauty of wood

The Marina is home to a rich seam of artistic talent that deserves wider exposure – and we are happy to oblige. We recently caught up with Eastlake Island resident Shaen Adey, who has spent the last five years honing her skills as a woodturner with some very impressive results.

Born and raised on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal, Shaen – who moved to the Marina 12 years ago – started her working life in conservation and wildlife photography, which she successfully combined with writing for many years. But ever since childhood, her first passion has been wood. “My father had all the tools, which I used to teach myself how to carve wood. It’s an interest that has never left me.” Around five years ago, Shaen took the plunge and decided to devote more time to her childhood passion.

Her journey as a professional woodturner started when she attended the re-opening of the Blue Shed arts and crafts market at the V&A Waterfront. Here, she met Bert Parker, widely respected as one of South Africa’s leading woodturners. Now 90, Bert advised Shaen to join the Western Cape Woodturners Association (WCWA), which is based in, appropriately enough, Pinelands. With the help of the club’s highly supportive woodturning community, she quickly mastered the basics.

These days, Shaen divides her working hours between her home in Eastlake Island and her studio, which stands on the banks of the vlei with spectacular views north towards Table Mountain. “This is my happy place,” she comments, surrounded by the tools of her trade and the finished and half-finished wood pieces she refers to as her ‘friends’.

The beauty of Shaen’s work speaks for itself. Her pieces range from pens and pepper grinders to large bowls and non-functional pieces that are simply a no-apology celebration of wood’s raw beauty. Functional or not, each piece invites us to rediscover the fascinating aesthetics and physical versatility of an indispensable material that so many of us take for granted. So where does she find her inspiration? “In the wood,” she says. “Each unturned piece tells me what it will become.”

Inevitably, the pandemic has made it more difficult for Shaen to share her work with a wider audience. But in the October before last, she hunkered down in her studio for the entire month and emerged with a collection of work entitled 30 Things In 30 Days. Alerted by word of mouth, the visitors who were fortunate enough to see the collection were overwhelmingly impressed. “The response,” says Shaen’ “was fantastic!” With that success under her belt, Shaen is working towards her follow-up exhibition  as she continues to attract a growing customer base.

It includes fellow Eastlake island resident, Eve Watson, who commissioned Shaen to make two pepper grinders. Commenting on her pieces, Eve says: “Loving wood and knowing that Shaen had a studio, I decided to commission her to make some pepper grinders. One was crafted from an interesting piece of Norfolk pine, with the typical signature knots dotting the surface. It made the perfect engagement gift for my daughter. And my piece? Exquisite! Shaen made it even more personal and fascinating by involving me in the entire process – from choosing the raw chunk of cork oak to watching it being transformed into a beautiful, functional artwork. Seeing the various aspects of the complex production and listening to Shaen’s creative thought process was totally enthralling.”

Watch this space for more details of Shaen’s next exhibition. But for now, if you’d like to see more of her work and perhaps work with her at her studio to create your own commissioned piece, she’s happy for you contact her on shaenadey@gmail.com or 082 777 5088.

Instagram: touchwoodshaen

WCWA woodturning club in Pinelands contact: Chris Briers on chris.briers@uct.ac.za.

Quick Q&A with Shaen Adey

Favourite wood to turn? I don’t have one, I have several, especially if they’re burls. But I mainly work in wild olive, protea, and cork oak.

Favourite tool? My large gouge. It’s got weight behind it and just feels right in the hand.

First turned piece? Two pens. One went to a friend’s mother in Scotland and the other was my aunt’s 70th birthday present.

Favourite piece? Aah… A really large sphere turned from a bottlebrush root.  

Biggest inspiration and influence? Pinterest and YouTube. There’s just so much out there.

Woodturners you follow? Paul Kristafor, Pascal Oudet, Rodney Band and Mike Shuler.

Advice to beginners? Join our club. It’s well equipped and has a number of  brilliant woodturners who are more than happy to pass on their skills.

Most valuable lesson? Safety, safety, safety! Gloves, dust mask and eye protection. I almost lost a finger once.

Ultimate woodturning ambition? To have a piece selected for The Daniel Collection.

A day with Staffa and his gardening team

Public holiday or not, the Marina gardeners were hard at work on 27 April, Freedom Day. Capably lead by Staffa Hussein, they spend every Tuesday beautifying and clearing shabby or overgrown areas across the Marina.

Every week, the team goes to one of the Marina islands on a rotational basis. This week, it was the turn of Park Island. Next Tuesday it will be Uitsig Peninsula and the following Tuesday they will focus on Cannon Island/Eastlake Island. The team then starts again with Park Island. 

Each Marina area has a local resident who decides on what the Marina gardeners focus on during their allocated Tuesday. Silvia Stringer is the local resident in who directs Park Island’s gardening operations. Sharon Gunn directs Uitsig Peninsula’s gardening operations and Andrea Pycroft directs Cannon Island and Eastlake Island’s gardening operations. Thank you to Staffa and his team, Silvia, Sharon and Andrea for all your efforts.

These photos show the before and after scenes in Park Island. It will take more than one day to properly clear the area so watch this space! They have already made enormous improvements though. One can now see the water from the road and the large tree has been trimmed so there are no hiding places underneath.

Please email any requests for Marina open spaces to be tidied up to the MDGA office on marinadagama@iafrica.com, Please note, though, that private verges are still the responsibility of each resident.. 

Calling all twitchers: join us for the next CWAC

It was a rather cool and overcast day on 23 January in the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve (ZENR), with only a light wind. In other words: perfect conditions for the quarterly Co-ordinated Waterbird Count (CWAC), organised by Gavin Lawson and the Cape Bird Club. This is a national census for counting water birds, which takes place across most of the wetlands in South Africa. A small group of Marina residents and ZENR staff joined in the fun.

The Zandvlei is divided into two areas for the bird count, Upper and Lower, with the  Park Island bridge as the boundary.

Here is a breakdown of the findings:

Upper – Total number of birds 1121
Total number of species 29

Lower – Total number of birds 685
Total number of species 25

Bird nameUpperLower
Greater Crested Grebe3
White Breasted Cormorant14
Cape Cormorant27
Reed Cormorant5231
African Darter131
Grey Heron31
Little Egret379
African Sacred Ibis2117
Hadeda Ibis29
African Spoonbill4
Greater Flamingo2
Spurwinged Goose8
Egyptian Goose5060
Cape Shoveler4
Yellowbilled duck11016
Cape Teal84
Common Moorhen10
Red-knobbed Koot521248
Threebanded Plover2
Blacksmith Lapwing3726
Common Greenshank1
Pied Avocet169
Blackwinged Stilt5410
Water Thick-Knee3
Kelp Gull39146
Greyheaded Gull11
Hartlaubs Gull7956
Caspian Tern3
Common Tern1
Sandwich Tern7
Pied Kingfisher129
Malachite Kingfisher1
Cape Wagtail6
Mallard4
Mallard Hybrid115

Marina residents are welcomed and encouraged to help count birds at the quarterly CWAC count. Please contact Gavin Lawson on glawson@axxess.co.za
Counters on foot and in canoes are welcome.

Read more on https://www.capebirdclub.org.za/zandvlei-cwac-counts/