Residents demand cleaning of waterways

Rubbish is trapped in the slimy expanse of weeds in the Marina da Gama waterways.

More than 200 Marina da Gama residents have signed a petition demanding the City of Cape Town open the Zandvlei Estuary mouth and make good on promises to clean waterways.

Residents claim the area’s waterways are in a bad way, citing dying fish, disruption of the natural ecology and the spread of weed choking the marina’s banks.

Some residents fear lower water levels will weaken their homes’ foundations.The residents say the weeds have been overtaking the waterways since the City closed the estuary mouth at Muizenberg Beach with a man-made sand bank that stops ocean tides flushing the estuary out.

Resident Anton Ressel said the community needed to work together to get the City to heed complaints. He didn’t start the petition, which surfaced on a social media site, but he feels residents need to come together to talk about the issues they face.

“I am pressuring the City to deliver on their promises made about improved law enforcement, clean-ups and dredging,” he said.

Meanwhile, a handful of residents on the Marina da Gama Facebook page said they were desperate enough to attempt to open the sandbank themselves.

The City opened the estuary mouth partially late last month, but the flow of water is still greatly impeded.

Muizenberg resident Kevin Rack said regular closure of the mouth had destroyed a breeding area for fish.

“Steenbras used to enter at the vlei mouth – there would be hundreds of thousands of fish… you would see them, 1m deep, silver flashing in the water. Now there is red algae bloom, and weed.”

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, said the estuary mouth had been closed – something the City did periodically – after the spring tides to trap water in the vlei.

“This is done to maintain a higher water level than what is accounted for through only catchment run-off.”

The natural flushing of the vlei, he added, was no longer happening because of the “artificial nature of the Zandvlei mouth and the man-made constrictions imposed on it”.