So far the cleanup has yielded more than 250 bags of rubbish (much of which is plastic), baths, dozens of tyres, three-bed bases, 11 mattresses, and more than 30 back cases of old TV sets.
Western Cape, South Africa (24 June 2020) – A massive community-driven cleanup of the Big and Little Lotus Rivers is currently underway. Driven by the Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei (FoZR) and with logistical support from the City of Cape Town and the False Bay Nature Reserve, the cleanup commenced on 15 June 2020, which is National Environment Month.
So far the cleanup has yielded more than 250 bags of rubbish (much of which is plastic), baths, dozens of tyres, three-bed bases, 11 mattresses, and more than 30 back cases of old TV sets. The work is being carried out by City workers as well as ten workers who are being paid through funds raised by FoZR from the Zeekoevlei community, both individuals and organisations such as CTEET and the Table Mountain Fund, the Zeekoevlei Yacht Club, Alfred Rowing Club, and the Zeekoevlei SRA.
Championed by FoZR Committee members and local residents Sidney Jacobs and Tom Schwerdtfeger, the cleanup was initiated to clear the amount of waste which had built up against the litter restraining fences at the outlets of the two rivers into Zeekoevlei ahead of the winter storms.
“The fences were under massive strain from all the litter, which included smaller items such as chip packets, and plastic bags, and then larger items such as tyres. Once the big rains came the fences were in danger of collapsing, and all this rubbish would end up in the vlei and ultimately in the ocean, endangering the lives of countless animals,” said Schwerdtfeger.
“We have now, with help from the City, been able to repair and reinforce these fences and are looking forward to the installation of further measures very soon which will further assist in keeping all this rubbish out of the vlei”.
“A huge thank you to Mr Abdulla Parker from the City’s Stormwater Department for his remarkable efforts in helping us to organise the cleanup as well as for his hardworking team,” said FoZR Chairperson Sidney Jacobs.
“The environment and our whole community are eternally grateful for the work that has been done, and we look forward to a long-lasting partnership so that the flow of litter into Zeekoevlei can be minimised. We are also grateful to the Zeekoevlei community for their support”.
Eighty percent of all plastic waste in the ocean originates on land and finds its way into stormwater drains and rivers where it is transported downstream into the ocean. In Cape Town many of the rivers and canals are used as illegal dumping sites – not only are these unsightly and costly to clean up, but present health hazards to humans and wildlife. A recent study conducted during lockdown by the University of Cape Town showed that most of the identifiable litter on beaches originated from local sources (94%) and showed that it came from the land.
The Big and Lotus Rivers (which have been canalised) feed into Zeekoevlei on the northern side and it, in turn, empties into False Bay on the southern side. In 2015 Zeekoevlei was awarded Ramsar status: Ramsar status means that the wetland is internationally recognised as a “wetland of importance” by the Ramsar Convention and that the South African government has committed to protecting it in the interests of biodiversity. Zeekoevlei is home to Cape clawless otters, a wide diversity of bird species including a pair African fish eagles, heron, cormorants, crested grebes, great white pelicans (Near Threatened) and greater flamingos, and amphibians such as the endangered western leopard toad, common platannas, and clicking stream frogs.
Zeekoevlei is also a well-loved recreational water body with more than twenty clubs making use of it for rowing and sailing. It is also popular for wind-surfing, water-skiing, and kayaking. Zeekoevlei and the adjacent Rondevlei Nature Reserve are both used for educational programmes through CTEET which hosts groups of school children throughout the year.