GEESE CHAIRMAN’S REPORT FOR THE 2015 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
2104 was an active year for GEESE – Glencairn Education & Environment Support Enthusiasts. In addition to the regular litter clean-ups, the occasional teams from the City to remove aliens and to cut grass, the school and educational visits and the clearing of storm water drains, there were a number of other activities and events.
TWO NEW PROJECTS WERE REPORTED ON LAST YEAR:
- One was the raising the path through the Fish Hoek tunnel under the Main Road using the pavers. This was moderately successful but we need to put another layer of pavers to raise the height – these we have most fortunately been promised and just need to collect!
- The other project was the major shark experiment carried out by the Natal Sharks Board. Paul van Blerk reports:
The Kwa Zulu-Natal Sharks Board Shark Repellent Cable (SRC) project involved the deploying of an underwater Electronic “SRC” system at Glencairn Beach. The system comprised of a chain mooring lattice on the sea floor from which 12 pairs of riser were affixed. The double row of risers ensured that the low voltage electrical field that was generated by the SRC was continuous over the 100 m distance of the system. Each pair of risers is supplied with the required electronic signal from a canister affixed to the chain mooring on the sea floor bed which in turn receives it command signal and power requirements from a cable running from main PCB trailer on the beach out to the system at sea. The system requires daily charging of the battery power supply pack and this is done each night by recovering the trailer switching off the system daily at 18h00 and charging the batteries overnight and then reconnecting the system the next morning and switching the system back on at 07h30.
The system is visually monitored by two shark spotters stationed at Glencairn each day, one at the bathing beach and one situated on the slopes of Elsie’s Peak in an elevated spotting position. Additionally a high powered HD video camera is positioned on the radio mast atop Elsie’s Peak and this camera records daily activity of the System and its surrounds. This recorded data will be evaluated at termination of the experiment. The experiment design called for white sharks to approach the system and their behaviour and response to the system would be recorded. Dependant on their reaction to the system this would then be indicative as to the success of the system deployed.
Unfortunately white shark numbers frequenting the Glencairn area and False Bay in general are down in number this season and to date no white sharks were recorded approaching the system. A few Copper sharks “bronze whalers” did approach but they stayed well clear of the system – this confirmed by the video recording. It is hoped that when the video data is reviewed it will reveal animals that moved into the area but which were not picked up by the spotters due to poor weather and sea conditions during the experiment period. The KZNSB will now evaluate the experiment and the data collected, before deciding on what further research is required in pursuit of developing alternative methods of protecting bathers from shark encounters. In closing, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board would like to thank the Glencairn community for their support and friendship during this period.
TWO OTHER SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS have been achieved by GEESE this past year.
- Extension of the Van Eck wooden foot bridge (by St Andrew’s Church). Since the alien trees have been removed from the Navy grounds and in Rotary and Gordons, there has been a much better flow of water in the Els River – in fact so much that every year there is flooding at the berm end of the bridge no matter what we try to do. After some four years of asking, we have finally been listened to and the City’s Environmental Department found enough money to extend the wooden bridge and dig a channel through the berm resulting in a much better flow of the river. We are most grateful for this extension to the bridge and we are now looking at improving the flow once the water reaches the wetland. The prospect of staff being able to get to work with dry feet looks very good!
- The discovery of large mature canopy trees below Glen Road! Cilla and Matthias were cleaning up after vagrants and discovered a large Milkwood. Looking from the pavement of Glen Road, the sea of vegetation below, while dreadfully matted with creepers, was a variety of different greens prompting them to see if there were other trees there. Matthias carved a path through to the next ‘tree’ which turned out to be an African Peach, and then they discovered a Cape Holly, and then a grove of Cape Ash and more Milkwoods and Sagewoods and Olives as well as a running stream – the river Els! We are most grateful to Claire McCarthy and Karl Reinecke who helped us identify the trees. It is now all cleared of strangling creepers with new access steps and signage (thanks to Andrew Hains of High Signs) into the wetland. It was opened on World Wetland Day when it was named the “Peter Salter Dell” by kind permission of Barbara his widow and Cathy and Natalie and their families. Barbara was going through Peter’s notes and found that, some twenty odd years ago when Glen Road was widened and the City proposed to plant Brazilian Pepper trees to replace the avenue of fir trees that they had had to remove. Fortunately Peter said “No” and gave them trees from his nursery garden at home. ‘Our’ trees make the area very special for the Salter family. Beryl Kleynhans has kindly donated her family swing which is now mounted there thanks to Brad Wallace Bradley.
Charles Lamb of the City’s Fish Hoek Road Department, cleaned out the storm water drains and very kindly removed huge loads of cut vegetation. A burst water main and recent rain have proved the storm water system is working very well. Thankfully, Anne Fry donated a large amount of Restios which have been planted at the bottom of the storm water shoots, breaking the power of the water entering the wetland and very effectively preventing erosion.
TWO GREAT CAUSES FOR CONCERN ARE:
- Dogs on beaches – especially Glencairn Beach. Traditionally, Glencairn Beach has always been a beach where dogs can run free. The current proposals to ban them have been met with fury, derision and anger. None of the City’s officials have come forward to give specific reasons why they support this proposal and poor Helen Jordaan, the City Official in charge of this project has had to face extraordinary anger and outrage. We need to have a concerted push to prevent this proposal being adopted.
- SEWAGE ENTERING THE WETLAND – the lack of control of raw sewage going into the wetland and the Els River. With help from the Fish Hoek Roads’ Department & Brad we have built three catchment nets round the three storm water drains coming under the Express Way and emptying into the wetland. The western one comes from the Phoenix Lodge Hall which, we are told, is the collecting point for the Shopping Centre. There was a blockage and when “They” dislodged the blockage they allowed it all to flow into the wetland. The pipe is now half full of hard sewage and we are struggling to get any action out of the City. It requires several tankers pumping water into the drain at Phoenix and an equal number sucking up what arrives at the wetland end. An expensive exercise that the authorities are loath to do.
On the other side of the wetland, down by the Main Road, there is a pump station which frequently “fails” when the power failure coincides with a busy sewage time. If that power failure is when everyone is at home and using lavatories, baths, showers etc the system cannot cope – there is no holding capacity and there is an overflow pipe from the pump station coming out of the wall in the Simon’s Town tunnel. The tunnel is so silted up with sand that the sewage flows up river, joining the main flow and going down the Fish Hoek tunnel. We have asked the City to increase the capacity of the Pump Station and to provide an auxiliary tank to hold the sewage while there is a power failure. But as this is a situation occurring right across the City during power outages no one is particularly interested in our complaints.
OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OUR NEIGHBOURS – GORDONS AND ROTARY are extremely cordial. Lloyd Walters of Gordons has been most helpful in keeping the road verge, Pooh Corner and St Andrew’s mown as well as helping with the pavers for the Fish Hoek Tunnel; while Koos Burger at Rotary and Antoinette, his wife, have entertained members of GEESE and the Parish at their new Labyrinth Walk.
GRATFUL THANKS TO our Malawian labourer, Matthias, who has got to know the wetland well – ‘his’ wetland – over the years and does a most wonderful job in keeping the paths clear, cutting back the bushes and the reeds and is brilliant at clearing out the litter and the vagrants. He is the expert in controlling Typha and takes great pride in how the wetland looks – we owe him great thanks and appreciation.
Rupert Bromley – April 2015
A reminder that the GEESE AGM is being held in St Andrew’s Church, Glen Road, Glencairn, next Sunday, 19th April starting at 17h00. Everyone is welcome – no membership fees, only a passion for Glencairn and the Wetland is required!