The City of Cape Town’s WasteWise programme, Friends of the Liesbeek, Zandvlei Trust, AfriOceans, Bicycling Empowerment Network, Princess Vlei Forum, Gravity Adventures, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Southern African Young Water Professionals and WESSA were all supporters of the 2012 Peninsula Paddle held earlier this month.
The event attracted the support of councillors from areas through which watercourses flowed, including Ward 72 Councillor for Grassy Park, Steenberg and Southfield, Jan Burger, Ward 58 Councillor for Rondebosch, Mowbray, Rosebank and Claremont, Councillor Matthew Kempthorne and Ward 49 councillor for the Athlone Area, Suzette Little.
Peninsula Paddle is an annual Cape Town event, held to coincide with World Environment Day each year. It aims to raise awareness of major social and environmental concerns that affect the Cape Peninsula, to highlight the need for rehabilitation, and to encourage communities to change the way in which waterways are utilised.
The third annual Peninsula Paddle took place on 3 June 2012 led by route pioneers Kevin Winter and Alistair Lee. The paddlers on canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards navigated their way from Muizenberg through a labyrinth of vleis, canals and rivers to Woodstock Beach before entering the Milnerton Lagoon and finishing at the old wooden bridge. It took the paddlers nine and a half hours to complete the 27km route which meandered through nature reserves, light industrial areas, recreational areas, residential estates and marinas.
The paddlers were impressed with the rich variety of birdlife at Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve and Princess Vlei but cautiously made their way through the polluted connecting canals between these vleis. Many of the residents who spoke with paddlers along the way expressed their disapproval at some residents who continue to throw rubbish and waste over their property walls into the canal system.
While it is evident that there is still much work to be done to improve the state of our waterways, the paddlers were encouraged to see some of the recent progress in terms of river rehabilitation work undertaken by the City of Cape Town and various groups and individuals. Water samples taken at Princess Vlei and Zandvlei showed only trace elements, barely detectable – an improvement on last year's results.
Louise Stafford of the City’s Invasive Alien Species Management Programme, in the Environmental Resource Management Department, who supported the event, stated that large tracts of the alien-invasive water hyacinth that previously blocked sections of the route have been removed, particularly in the area between Athlone and Salt River. This rehabilitation activity forms part of the Integrated Aquatic Weed Control Programme that has been done through the Kader Asmal Project in partnership with the Roads and Stormwater Department. The project has also resulted in skills development and job creation, with several river wardens having now been appointed to control invasive vegetation and remove litter along tracts of the Liesbeek and Black Rivers.
Endurance swimmer, maritime lawyer and environmental campaigner Lewis Pugh (‘The Human Polar Bear’) joined the group on the final leg of the paddle. He voiced concern about the large number of plastics emitted from storm water drains and rivers into the ocean. Pugh said that these journeyed deep out to sea and were a hazard to seabirds while also being an eyesore. Also joining the colourful flotilla was veteran hard line investigative journalist and Carte Blanche presenter, Derek Watts. The award-winning programme is expected to highlight the plight of Cape Town's waterways in a future episode.
For further information visit http://peninsulapaddle.wordpress.com.
Contact Catherine Ritchie (WESSA) for general event information
on 021 701 1397 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr Kevin Winter (Friends of the Liesbeek) for water quality related information on 021 650 2875 or email@example.com.