Hout Bay wetland gets a new lease on life

Taken from capetown.gov.za:

Published by Martin Pollack.
Developer commences with restoration of Disa River Wetlands in Hout Bay

The City of Cape Town, in partnership with the Department of Water Affairs (DWA), has received confirmation from the developers of the Hout Bay Beach Club – Really Useful Investments 219 (Pty) Ltd – that they began work in preparation for rehabilitation of the Disa River Wetlands in Hout Bay on Wednesday, 15 February 2012.

This follows legal action taken by the City and the DWA to prevent any further infilling of the wetlands. The City served a Pre-Directive on the developers in April 2011 before serving a Directive in terms of the Environment Conservation Act in May 2011. Concurrently, a Pre-Directive was served by the DWA in terms of the National Water Act, followed by a Directive.

The City and the DWA had significant concerns regarding the impact of the aforementioned activities on the riverine and wetland environment, the quality of the water, and the beach areas adjacent to the Beach Club. In addition to the City’s concerns, a number of complaints were received from Hout Bay residents and a petition was later handed to the City by Kronendal Primary School in Hout Bay.

“We are very pleased that the developers of the Beach Club have initiated work to abide by the conditions set out in the Directive. Working together with the Department of Water Affairs, the City has shown that destruction of our natural resources will not be tolerated. The agreement to rehabilitate the wetland is especially welcomed as we recently celebrated World Wetlands Day,” says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Alderman Belinda Walker.

The process has taken some time to conclude because of the specialist information that the developers needed to obtain (i.e. reports prepared by wetland and hydrological specialists retained by the developers and the City), which then had to be carefully reviewed by the City.

The City of Cape Town’s Directive required that the developers stop infilling immediately, survey the natural flood lines, and appoint a freshwater ecologist to assess the impact of infilling and make detailed recommendations for rehabilitation.

Now that these studies are complete, the developer is required to remove the material that was placed in the floodplain of the river to the satisfaction of the City. An agreement has been drafted between the City and the developers on the extent of fill to be removed, the timing and methods to be used, and the monitoring of the process.

“The developer has until 30 March 2012 to complete the required rehabilitation work and the City will be monitoring this process carefully,” said Alderman Walker.

“This is another good example of co-operative governance between the City of Cape Town and the Department of Water Affairs to protect our natural resources,” said the Chief Director of the Western Cape Department of Water Affairs, Rashid Khan.

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