SITUATION ASSESSMENT (FINAL DRAFT)

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1 C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme DEVELOPMENT OF THE VERLORENVLEI ESTUARINE MANAGEMENT PLAN: SITUATION ASSESSMENT (FINAL DRAFT) October 2009 Report prepared for: CapeNature West Coast District Municipality Department of Environmental Affairs Department of Water Affairs Report prepared by: CSIR Natural Resources and the Environment Stellenbosch

2 This report was compiled by: CSIR Natural Resources and the Environment PO Box 320 Stellenbosch 7599 Tel: Fax: This report should be referenced as: CSIR (2009) Development of the Verlorenvlei estuarine management plan: Situation assessment. Report prepared for the C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme. CSIR Report No (to be allocated) Stellenbosch. COPYRIGHT CSIR 2009 This document is copyright under the Berne Convention. In terms of the Copyright Act, Act No. 98 of 1978, no part of this book/document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the CSIR. Cover Photos: P Huizinga and P Morant

3 Executive Summary Summary of Problems and Impacts Through stakeholder consultation, 16 key activities have been identified as threatening (or potentially threatening) to the ecosystem services provided by Verlorenvlei. These activities contribute to an array of problems and associated environmental impacts and socio-economic consequences, when managed inappropriately, as illustrated in Table 7.1 and Table 7.2. From these tables it is clear that there are no one-to-one linkages between the activities, problems and impacts several activities can contribute to one or more problems which, in turn, can contribute to more than one impact, and vice versa. The following section provides a brief description of these key activities and their related potential impacts on the Verlorenvlei: Veld fires in and around Verlorenvlei lead to soil erosion and increased sedimentation. This can be particularly problematic at Verlorenvlei as it has a constricted outlet that prevents sediment scouring during floods leading to an accumulation of sediments in the system. Road Infrastructure refers to the roads and embankments in the floodplain and the crossings and culverts that transverse it. The roads and embankments stabilize the course of the vlei and often create a different substrate character compared with the natural situation. The numerous crossings and culverts (e.g. road bridge to Elandsbay, crossings to Grootdrift and Redelinghuys, informal crossings near mouth and railway bridge) cutting across the system frequently restrict its flow, stabilizes its course and leads to increased reed growth. The construction of informal crossings near the mouth and at the railway bridge has led to the destruction of habitat and disturbance of bird life. Riparian Infrastructure refers to all infrastructure in the floodplain of the system. Of particular concern are the low-lying properties near the mouth of the system, i.e. along the estuarine channel. There are numerous examples along the coast where this type of urban creep starts putting pressure on local authorities to manage the water level in a system artificially. An additional concern is the many fences that span the floodplain that restrict access and result in overgrazing in the areas where animals are kept. This causes changes in the species composition of the floodplain vegetation. In-stream infrastructure refers to jetties and pumphouses that could have a localized influence on circulation patterns in the vlei. Recreational activities include non-consumptive activities such as boating and swimming that may have a limited localized disturbance impact on the birdlife. Windsurfing, however, results in a high disturbance impact on the avifauna. Open-cast Mining of tungsten and molybdenum of is being proposed in the upper catchment of Verlorenvlei at Metonshoek. This mining development is likely to need significant freshwater supplies, hold significant risk for the sense of place in the area and can potentially cause pollution of the freshwater supplies flowing into Verlorenvlei. Artificial breaching of the mouth is rumoured to be undertaken as a result of the backflooding of the floodplain (grazing land) in the upper vlei. Artificial breaching can lead to loss of water column habitat and a reduction in estuarine productivity. Agriculture: Crop production and livestock grazing in the catchment results in increased soil erosion and related sedimentation. This in turn is linked to increased Page i

4 reed growth in the upper reaches and a decrease in water clarity. Crop production is also linked to agricultural return flow carrying leached fertilizer (nutrients) and agrochemicals, a decrease in freshwater input and loss of riparian habitat. Water abstraction refers to sumps, river, groundwater and direct abstraction which collectively cause a significant reduction in the inflow of freshwater to Verlorenvlei. This in turn has decreased the average water level in the vlei, prevented regular natural breachings of the mouth and increased isolation of the system from the sea. Reduced water levels and flushing in turn has led to increased reed growth and blooms (blue green algae or parrot s feather). Alien vegetation infestation in the catchment of Verlorenvlei has contributed significantly to a decrease in surface and groundwater flow to the system. Wastewater disposal includes the disposal of non-reticulated sewage, washings from fishing boat and discharging of wastewater from a local pig farm. In appropriate disposal of waste water leads to nutrient enrichment and microbial contamination. Solid waste disposal especially leachate and litter from the municipal waste dump, which is situated within a few hundred metres of the vlei, can lead to microbial contamination, toxic substances entering the system or enrichment. Solid litter can lead to the entrapment of biota and reduction in the aesthetic value of the vlei. Dumping of building rubble in unauthorized sites (e.g. on the Island ) can lead to the loss of habitat and a decrease in aesthetic value. Agricultural return flow carrying leached fertilizers causes nutrient enrichment, which in turn leads to the blue-green algal blooms or extensive growth of parrot s feather. A relatively recent phenomenon is the occurrence of avian botulism in wading birds, also linked to poor water quality. Harvesting of reeds and sedges can lead to reduction in the abundance of plant species. While the burning of reeds and sedges can lead to an increase in sedimentation and changes in the nutrient cycle of the vlei. Gill netting refers to the targeting of indigenous estuarine dependant and associated fish species for local consumption. Gillnetting leads to recruitment failure of estuarine associated species (including over-exploited species such as white steenbras) and results in a decrease of the system s nursery value. It also may enable alien fish species to become established. Introduction of alien fish species has caused the displacement of indigenous species. Agriculture: Livestock grazing of riparian zone reduces the vegetation cover which, in turn, allows greater amounts of sediment to be washed into the vlei during heavy rains. In addition over-grazing this will also lead to changes in the species composition/abundance of the vegetation around the system. Alien vegetation infestation in the floodplain leads to changes in the species composition (biodiversity loss) and reduction in water level. Page ii

5 Table 1: An overview of key activities and linkages to potential environmental problems if managed inappropriately PROBLEM CATEGORY ACTIVITY Siltation Physical habitat alteration/ destruction Alteration of salinity regime Eutrophication Toxic chemical pollution Microbial contamination Littering Suspended solids Direct Alteration of biomass/species Land-use & Infrastructure Development Water Quantity & Quality Living Resources Alien vegetation infestation in flood plain Veld fires Road Infrastructure (including roads, crossings, culverts) Riparian Infrastructure (including fences, bird hides, low-lying developments) In-stream infrastructure (e.g. jetties, pumphouses) Recreational activities (boating, windsurfing, swimming) Mining (Tungsten/Molybdenum) Artificial breaching Agriculture: Crop production & Livestock in catchment Water abstraction (river, groundwater, direct abstraction, sumps) Alien vegetation infestation in catchment causing flow reduction Wastewater disposal (nonreticulated sewage, boat washing, effluent from pig farm (?)) Solid waste disposal (building rubble, leaches and litter from municipal dump) Agricultural return flow Harvesting and burning of reeds and sedges Gill netting of indigenous fish species Introduction of alien fish species Agriculture: Livestock grazing of riparian zone Page iii

6 Table 2: Environmental impacts and socio-economic consequences potentially associated with specific problems PROBLEM ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES Siltation Physical habitat alteration/destruction Alteration of salinity regime Eutrophication Toxic chemical pollution Microbial contamination Littering High Suspended solids Direct Alteration of biomass/species ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS Modification/loss in species composition Smothering of benthic communities Entanglement of organisms (e.g. birds) Chronic effects on biota Mortality (acute effects) on biota Opportunistic/Nuisance/Harmful algal blooms Anoxic conditions Pathogenic infections in biota PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY Human health and safety risks through recreational activities Human health risk through ingestion of contaminated seafood FOOD SECURITY & POVERTY Loss in quality of seafood products Loss of fisheries resources and revenue OTHER SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT Loss of aesthetic value (e.g. for tourism) Loss of coastal real estate, public facilities and recreational potential Page iv

7 Summary of Legislation and Responsibilities An array of existing Acts (both national and provincial) governs the activities identified as posing threats to the ecosystems services provided by Verlorenvlei. A summary of relevant Acts and responsible departments/authorities pertaining to the different activities is provided in Table 3. Table 3: Summary of relevant legislation and responsible departments/authorities pertaining to identified activities in Verlorenvlei CATEGORY ACTIVITY RELEVANT LEGISLATION RESPONSIBLE DEPARTMENT/ AUTHORITY Alien infestation Nationla Water Act (NWA) 1998 Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (CARA) 1983 Biodiversity Act 2004 Dept of Water Affairs (DWA) Dept of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Dept of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Veld fires CARA 1983 Biodiversity Act 2004 DAFF DEA Land-use & Infrastructure Development Road Infrastructure Riparian Infrastructure In-stream infrastructure Recreational activities Mining Municipal systems Act 2000 Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) Municipal Systems Act 2000 IDPs NWA 1998 Integrated Coastal Management Act (ICMA) 2008 Municipal Systems Act 2000 NWA 1998 Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) 1998 Provincial Conservation Ordinances Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002 Dept. Provincial and Local Government Local Authorities Dept. Provincial and Local Government Local Authorities DWA DEA:MCM Dept. Provincial and Local Government/ Local Authorities DWA DEA: MCM CapeNature Dept of Mining (DM) Artificial breaching NWA 1998/ICMA 2008 DWA/DEA:MCM Agriculture: Crop production and livestock NWA 1998 CARA 1983 DWA DAFF Water Quantity & Quality Water abstraction Wastewater disposal Solid waste disposal Agricultural return flow NWA 1998 Water Services Act IDP NWA 1998/ Water Services Act ICMA 2008 IDP ICMA 2008/ NEMA 1998 National Waste Management Bill Solid Waste Management By-laws (?) NWA 1998 CARA 1983 DWA Local Authorities DWA DEA:MCM Local authority DWA Local Authorities DWA DAFF Page v

8 CATEGORY ACTIVITY RELEVANT LEGISLATION RESPONSIBLE DEPARTMENT/ AUTHORITY Living Resources Harvesting and burning of reeds and sedges Gill netting Introduction of alien fish species Agriculture: Livestock grazing in flood plain CARA 1983 MLRA 1998 MLRA 1998 Provincial Conservation Ordinances MLRA 1998 Provincial Conservation Ordinances CARA 1983 MLRA 1998 DAFF DEA: MCM DEA: MCM CapeNature DEA: MCM CapeNature DAFF DEA: MCM Summary of Existing Reponses In many instances activities that pose a threat to the ecological and socio-economic ecosystem services provided by Verlorenvlei are governed by specific legislation. Also, there are a number of existing management actions or responses aimed at mitigating or minimising such threats (Chapter 7). A summary of the estimated severity of the impacts, as well as the status of existing legislation and management initiatives pertaining to specific activities is provided in Table 4. Note that this is not an absolute rating but rather a qualitative evaluation to enable prioritization of management actions Table 4: Summary of (negative) impacts on Verlorenvlei (depicted as H= high; M = medium; L = low) and the status of existing legislation and management initiatives (G = good; F = fair; P = poor) pertaining to identified activities IMPACT RESPONSE CATEGORY ACTIVITY Ecological Impact Severity Socio-Economic Impact Severity Legislation Management Responses Agriculture: Crop production H L F F Land-use & Infrastructure Development Alien infestation M L F G Veld fires L L G F Road Infrastructure L L F F Riparian Infrastructure M L G F In-stream infrastructure L L F F Page vi

9 IMPACT RESPONSE CATEGORY ACTIVITY Ecological Impact Severity Socio-Economic Impact Severity Legislation Management Responses Recreational activities L L F G Mining (proposed) H H P F/P Water Quantity & Quality Living Resources Artificial breaching H L F P Solid waste disposal L L G P Water abstraction H H G P Wastewater disposal (non-reticulated sewage & wash water from boats) M M F P Harvesting and burning of reeds and sedges M L F P Gill netting H M G F/P Introduction of alien fish species H M G P Agriculture: Livestock H L F P Page vii

10 Bestuursopsomming Opsomming van Probleme en Impakte Deur middel van raadpleging, is 16 sleutelaktiwiteite geïdentifiseer as bedreigend (of potensieel bedreigend) tot die ekosisteemdienste wat deur Verlorenvlei verskaf word. Hierdie aktiwiteite dra by tot 'n verskeidenheid van die probleme en gepaardgaande omgewingimpak en sosioekonomiese gevolge, as hulle ontoereikend bestuur word, soos geïllustreer in Tabel 1and Tabel 2. Van hierdie tabelle is dit duidelik dat daar geen een-tot-een-verhouding tussen die aktiwiteite, probleme en invloede is nie - verskeie aktiwiteite kan bydra tot een of meer probleem, wat weer kan bydra tot meer as een impak, en andersom. Hieronder volg in kort beskrywing van die sleutelaktiwiteite en hul verwante potensiële impakte op Verlorenvlei: Veldbrande in en rondom Verlorenvlei lei tot erosie en n toename in sedimentasie. Dit is spesifiek problematies vir Verlorenvlei omdat dit n vernoude mond het wat sedimentuitskuring tydens vloede verhoed en wat dan lei to akkumulasie van sediment in die stelsel. Padinfrastruktuur verwys na die paaie en keerwalle in die vloedvlakte en die kruisings en kasduikers (culverts) wat dwars oor die vlakte loop. Die paaie en keerwalle stabiliseer die loop van die vlei en skep dikwels 'n verskillende substraat karakter in vergelyking met die natuurlike toestand. Die talle kruisings en kasduikers (bv. die pad brug na Elandsbaai, die kruisings by Grootdrift en Redelinghuys en informele kruisings naby die mond- en spoorbrug) sny oor die stelsel heen en belemmer dikwles die vloei, stabiliseer die lope en lei tot verhoogde rietgroei. Die bou van die informele kruisings naby die mond en by die spoorbrug, het gelei tot die vernietiging van die habitat en die ondergang van die voëllewe. Rivieroewerinfrastruktuur verwys na al die infrastruktuur lanfs die ower van die van die stelsel. Van besondere belang is die laagliggende eiendomme naby die monding, d.w.s. langs die riviermonding-kanaal. Daar is talle voorbeelde langs die kus waar hierdie tipe van stedelike kruip druk begin plaas op plaaslike owerhede om die watervlak in 'n stelsel kunsmatig te bestuur. 'n Ekstra bekommernis is die klomp heinings wat oor die vloedvlakte gespan is wat toegang beperk en wat lei tot oorbeweiding in gebiede waar diere aangehou word. Dit veroorsaak veranderinge in die soort samestelling van die vloedvlakte plantegroei. Binne stroominfrastruktuur verwys na die vasmeerplekke en pompstasies wat 'n gelokaliseerde invloed op sirkulasiepatrone in die vlei kan hê. Ontspanningsaktiwiteite sluit in die nie-verbruikende bedrywighede soos roei en swem wat 'n beperkte gelokaliseerde versteuring op die voëllewe kan hê. Seilplank actiwiteite, aan die ander kant, veroorsaak hoë versteuring van die voëllewe. Oopskag mynbou van wolfram en molibdeen word tans voorgestel vir ontginning in die boopvangsgebied van Verlorenvlei by Metonshoek. Hierdie mynbou-ontwikkeling gaan waarskynlik beduidende varswater voorrade benodig, n beduidende risiko vir die gevoel van plek inhou en ook potensiële besoedeling van die varswater invloei in Verlorenvlei tot gevolg hê. Kunsmatige oopmaak van die mond word vermoed as gevolg van die terugvloei in die vloedvlakte (weidingsgrond) in die boonste vlei. Kunsmatige oopmakings kan lei tot die verlies van waterkolom habitat en 'n verlaging in die produktiwiteit van die getyrivier. Landbou: Gewasproduksie en veeweiding in die opvanggebied veroorsaak verhoogde erosie en verwante sedimentasie. Hierdie toestand is weer gekoppel aan verhoogde rietgroei in die bolope en 'n afname in die waterdeursigtigheid. Gewasproduksie is ook Page viii

11 gekoppel aan landbouterugvloei wat kunsmis (voedingstowwe) en landbouchemikalieë dra, 'n afname in varswaterinloop en die verlies van rivieroewers habitat. Wateronttrekking verwys na seiferput-, rivier-, grondwater- en direkte onttrekking van water wat gesamentlik 'n beduidende afname in die invloei van varswater na Verlorenvlei veroorsaak. Die onttrekkings lei weer daartoe dat die gemiddelde watervlak in die vlei daal, dit verhinder die gereelde natuurlike oopmakings van die mond en veroorsaak groter isolasie tussen die stelsel en die see. Verlaagde watervlakke en swak uitspoeling lei ook weer tot verhoogde riet- en alge-groei (blou groen alge of die plant Parrots feather). Uitheemse plantegroei infestasie in die opvangsgebied van Verlorenvlei het aansienlik bygedra tot 'n afname in oppervlak-en grondwatervloei in die stelsel. Afvalwater sluit in die verwydering van ongekoppelde riool, waswater van vissersbote en moontlik afvalwater van 'n plaaslike varkplaas. Ongedoltreffended wegdoening van afvalwater lei tot voedingstof verryking en mikrobiese besmetting. Die vaste afval, veral syferwater en rommel uit die munisipale stortingsterrein, wat binne 'n paar honderd meter van die vlei geleë is, kan lei tot mikrobiese besmetting, toksiese stowwe of voedingstofverryking van die stelsel. Rommel kan lei tot die verstrengeling van biota en vermindering van die estetiese waarde van die vlei. Storting van bourommel in ongeoorloofde plekke (bv. op die "eiland") kan ook lei tot die verlies aan habitat en 'n afname in die estetiese waarde. Landbou terugvloei wat kunsmis dra, veroorsaak voedingstofverryking, wat weer lei tot die groei van blou-groen alge of uitgebreide groei van die plant, Parrot s feather. 'n Relatief onlangse verskynsel is die voorkoms van voël botulisme in waadvoëls, wat ook gekoppel word aan swak waterkwaliteit. Oes van riete en moerasgras kan lei tot 'n vermindering in die voorkoms van skekre plant spesies. Verbranding van riete en moerasgras kan ook lei tot 'n toename in sedimentasie en die veranderinge in die voedingstof siklus van die vlei. Kieuwnette verwys na die vangs van inheemse getyrivier-afhanklike en getyriviergeassosieerde visspesies vir plaaslike verbruik. Kieuwnette belemmer ook beweging van getyrivier-verwante spesies (insluitende oor-ontginde spesies soos die wit steenbras) tussen die vlei en die see. Die gevolg is 'n afname van die stelsel se waarde as bewaringsplek vir klein vissies en ander organismes. Dit kan ook uitheemse visspesies in staat stel om te vestig. Invoer van uitheemse visspesies het die verplasing van die inheemse spesies veroorsaak. Landbou: Veeweiding op die rivieroewers verlaag die plantbedekking, wat weer kan veroorsaak dat groter volumes sediment in die vlei gewas word tydens swaar reën. Behalwe oorbeweiding lei dit ook tot veranderinge in die soort samestelling/hoeveelheid van die plantegroei rondom die stelsel. Uitheemse plantegroei infestasie in die vloedvlakte lei tot veranderinge in die soort samestelling (verlies aan biodiversiteit) en die verlaging in die watervlak. Page ix

12 Tabel 1: n Oorsig van sleutelaktiwiteite en hulle verwante potensiële omgewingsprobleme indien aktiwiteite ondoetreffend bestuur word PROBLEEM KATEGORIE Grondgebruik-en Infrastruktuurontwikkeling Water Kwantiteil & Kwaliteit AKTIWITEIT Siltasie Fisiese habitat wysigings/ vernietiging Verandering van soutregime Eutrofiëring Giftige chemiese besoedeling Oorname deur uitheemse indringerplante in die vloedvlakte Veldbrande Pad-infrastruktuur (insluitend paaie, kruisings, kasduikers) Rivieroewer-infrastruktuur (insluitend heinings, voëlskuiling, laagliggende ontwikkelinge) Binne-stroom infrastruktuur (bv. vasmeerplekke en pomp-stasies) Mikrobiese besmetting Rommelstrooi Gesuspendeerde stowwe Ontspanningsaktiwiteite (bootvaar, seilplank, swem) Mynbou (Wolfram / Molibdeen) Kunsmatige oopmakings van mond Landbou: Gewasproduksie & Vee in die opvangsgebied Wateronttrekking (rivier, grondwater, direkte abstraksie, seiferputte) Oorname deur uitheemse indringerplante in die opvangsgebied (veroorsaak vloei vermindering) Afvoer van afvalwater (ongekoppelde riool, boot waswater, afvalwater van varkplaas (?)) Vaste afval (bourommel, syferwater en Rommel van munisipale stortingsterrein) Direkte Verandering van biomassa / spesies Landbou terugvloei Lewende bronne Oesting en verbranding van riete en moerasgras Kieuwnette van inheemse visspesies Invoer van uitheemse visspesies Landbou: Vee weiding op rivieroewers Page x

13 Tabel 2: Potensiële Omgewingsimpakte en sosio-ekonomiese gevolge wat verband hou met die spesifieke probleme PROBLEEM OMGEWINGSIMPAK EN SOSIO- EKONOMIESE GEVOLG Siltasie Fisiese habitat wysigings/ vernietiging Verandering van soutregime Eutrofiëring Giftige chemiese besoedeling Mikrobiese besmetting Rommelstrooi Gesuspendeerde stowwe Direkte Verandering van biomassa / spesies OMGEWINGSIMPAKTE Verandering / verlies in die spesiessamestelling Versmoring van biota in sediment Verstrengeling van organismes (bv. voëls) Chroniese effekte op biota Mortaliteit (akute effekte) op biota Opportunistiese / Lastige / Skadelike alge groei Anoksiese toestande Patogeniese infeksies in biota VOLKSGESONDHEID EN VEILIGHEID Menslike gesondheid en veiligheidsrisiko s as gevolg van ontspanningsaktiwiteite Menslike gesondheid risiko deur die inname van besmette seekos VOEDSELSEKERHEID & ARMOEDE Verlies in die kwaliteit van die seekosprodukte Verlies van die vissery hulpbronne en inkomste ANDER SOCIO-EKONOMIESE IMPAKTE Verlies van estetiese waarde (bv. vir toerisme) Verlies van die kuseiendomwaarde, openbare fasiliteite en ontspanningsgeriewe potensiaal Page xi

14 Opsomming van Wetgewing en Verantwoordelikhede n Verskeidenheid van bestaande wette (beide nasionaal en provinsiaal) beheer tans die geïdentifiseerde aktiwiteite wat n bedreiging inhou vir die ekosisteemdienste wat deur Verlorenvlei verskaf word. 'n Opsomming van die relevante wette en verantwoordelike departemente/owerhede met betrekking tot die gelyste aktiwiteite word in Tabel 3 aangedui. Tabel 3: Opsomming van die relevante wetgewing en verantwoordelike departemente/owerhede met betrekking tot die geïdentifiseerde aktiwiteite in Verlorenvlei KATEGORIE AKTIWITEIT RELEVANTE WTGEWING VERANTWOORDELIKE DEPARTEMENT/OWERHEID Oorname deur uitheemse indringerplante Nasionale Water Wet (NWW)1998 Bewaring van Landbou Hulpbronne Wet (BLHW) 1983 Biodiversiteit Wet 2004 Dept Waterwese (DW) Dept Landbou, Bosbou & Vissery (DLBV) Dept Omgewingsake (DO) Veldbrande BLHW 1983 Biodiversiteit Wet 2004 DLBV DO Land-use & Infrastructure Development Padinfrastruktuur In-stream infrastructure Rivieroewerinfrastruktuur Ontspannigsaktiwiteite Munisipale Stelsels Wet 2000 Geintegreerde Ontwikkelingsplanne (GOPs) Munisipale Stelsels Wet 2000 GOPs NWW 1998 Geintegreerde Kusbestuur Wet (GKW) 2008 Munisipale Stelsels Wet 2000 NWW 1998 Marine Hulpbronne Wet (MHW)1998 Provinsiale Bewaringsordonansies Dept. Provinsiale en Plaaslike Regering Plaaslike Owerhede Dept. Provinsiale en Plaaslike Regering Plaaslike Owerhede DW DO:MCM Dept. Provinsiale en Plaaslike Regering Plaaslike Owerhede DW DO: MCM CapeNature Mynbou Minerale en Petroleum Hulpbronontwikkeling Wet 2002 Dept Mynwese (DM) Kunsmatige oopmakinga NWW 1998/GKW 2008 DW / DO:MCM Landbou: Gewasprodujksie en Vee NWW 1998 BLHW 1983 DW DLBV Water Quantity & Quality Water onttrekking Afvoer van Afvalwater Vaste afval Lanbou Terugvloei NWW 1998 Waterdienste Wet GOPs NWW 1998/ Waterdienste Wet GKW 2008 GOPs GKW 2008/ NEMA 1998 Nasionale Afvalbestuur Konsepwet Vaste afval bestuursverorderings NWW 1998 BLHW 1983 DW Plaaslike Owerhede DW DO:MCM Plaaslike Owerhede DW Plaaslike Owerhede DW DLBV Page xii

15 KATEGORIE AKTIWITEIT RELEVANTE WTGEWING VERANTWOORDELIKE DEPARTEMENT/OWERHEID Living Resources Oesting en verbranding van riete en moerasgras Kieuwnette Invoer van uitheemse visspesies Lanbou: Vee weiding in vloedvlakte BLHW 1983 MHW 1998 MHW 1998 Provinsiale Bewaringsordonansies MHW 1998 Provinsiale Bewaringsordonansies BLHW 1983 MHW 1998 DLBV DO: MCM DO: MCM CapeNature DO: MCM CapeNature DLBV DO: MCM Opsomming van Huidinge Reaksie In baie gevalle word die aktiwiteite wat 'n bedreiging inhou vir die ekologiese- en sosio-ekonomiese dienste wat deur Verlorenvlei verskaf word, beheers deur spesifieke wetgewing. Verder is daar 'n aantal bestaande bestuursaksies of reaksies wat daarop gemik is om verligting of vermindering van sodanige bedreigings te bewerkstelling. 'n Opsomming van die beraamde intensiteit van die impakte van hierdie aktiwiteite, asook die status van die bestaande wetgewing en bestuur inisiatiewe wat betrekking het op die spesifieke aktiwiteite word in Tabel 4 aangedui. Let daarop dat hierdie nie 'n absolute waardering is nie, maar eerder' n kwalitatiewe evaluering om bestuursaksies te kan prioritiseer. Tabel 3:Opsomming van (negatiewe) impakte op Verlorenvlei (voorgestel as H= hoog; M = medium; L = laag) en die stand met betrekking tot bestaande wetgewing en bestuursinitiatiewe (G = goed; M = middelmatig; S = swak) pertaining to identified activities IMPACT RESPONSE CATEGORY ACTIVITY Ecological Impact Severity Socio-Economic Impact Severity Legislation Management Responses Land-use & Infrastructure Development Agriculture: Crop production H L M M Alien infestation M L M G Veld fires L L G M Road Infrastructure L L M M Riparian Infrastructure M L G M In-stream infrastructure L L M M Recreational activities L L M G Page xiii

16 IMPACT RESPONSE CATEGORY ACTIVITY Ecological Impact Severity Socio-Economic Impact Severity Legislation Management Responses Mining (proposed) H H S M/S Artificial breaching H L M S Solid waste disposal L L G S Water Quantity & Quality Living Resources Water abstraction H H G S Wastewater disposal (non-reticulated sewage & wash water from boats) M M M S Harvesting and burning of reeds and sedges M L M S Gill netting H M G M/S Introduction of alien fish species H M G S Agriculture: Livestock H L M S Page xiv

17 Table of Contents Executive Summary... i Bestuursopsomming... viii Table of Contents...xv Appendices... xvii Figures... xviii Tables...xx Abbreviations and Acronyms...xxi Acknowledgements... xxii Planned documents for this Project:... xxiii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Introduction Scope of Work Need for Estuarine Management Components of an EMP... 5 CHAPTER 2: VERLORENVLEI CATCHMENT Geology and Geomorphology Soils Climate and Runoff Historical Land use Our archaeological heritage Land-use CHAPTER 3: VERLORENVLEI ESTUARY Background Abiotic Features Biotic Components Verlorenvlei Health Status CHAPTER 4: ECOSYSTEM SERVICES Introduction Ecosystem Services Total Economic Value Subsistence fisheries Raw Materials Grazing Carbon Sequestration Waste Treatment Nursery Value Export of Materials and Nutrients Page xv

18 3.11 Recreation and Tourism Value Existence Value Summary Implications for Estuary Management CHAPTER 5: ACTIVITIES THREATENING ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN AND AROUND VERLORENVLEI Environmental Hazards Human Activities and Development CHAPTER 6: ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION RELEVANT TO VERLORENVLEI Background International Conventions Relevant to Verlorenvlei National legislation CHAPTER 7: EXISTING MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES OR PLANS Overview Cederberg Municipality Integrated Development Plan Cederberg Municipality Water Services Plan Olifants/Doorn Catchment Management Strategies South African Wetlands Conservation programme s plan for Verlorenvlei C.A.P.E. Estuaries Conservation Plan Working for Wetlands CapeNature and CAPE Stewardship Programme The Greater Cederberg Biodiversity Corridor GCBC Biodiversity and Potatoes Biodiversity and Rooibos Initative CHAPTER 8: SYNOPSIS OF CURRENT SITUATION IN VERLORENVLEI Summary of Problems and Impacts Summary of Legislation and Responsibilities Summary of Existing Reponses REFERENCES 101 APPENDIX A: SUMMARY OF SECTIONS IN RELEVANT LEGISLATION PERTAINING TO ACTIVITIES AFFECTING ESTUARIES 105 APPENDIX B: DESKTOP HEALTH ASSESSMENT OF VERLORENVLEI 110 Page xvi

19 Appendices Appendix A Appendix B Legislation governing specific activities occurring in and around Verlorenvlei Verlorenvlei Desktop Health Determination Page x v ii

20 Figures Figure 1.1: Figure 2.1: The generic framework for the development and implementation of EMPS 6 Map of the geology of Verlorenvlei catchment 9 Figure 2.2: Verlorenvlei catchment map 11 Figure2.3: The mean annual precipitation and potential annual evaporation rate for Verlorenvlei Catchment 12 Figure 2.4: Groundwater recharge areas (Source: N Job) 14 Figure 2.6: Aerial photograph of the active and inactive center-pivot crop fields adjacent to Verlorenvlei (Source: CapeNature) 18 Figure 2.7 Locality map of Verlorenvlei 20 Figure 2.8: Dried kelp wrack on inside of Verlorenvlei sand spit 21 Figure 2.9: Mouth of Verlorenvlei, November Figure 2.10: The rocky sill causing a natural obstruction about 500 m from the mouth to tidal exchange 23 Figure 2.11: Railway bridge crossing 23 Figure 2.12: Road bridge crossing bisecting the estuary from the lake 24 Figure 2.13: Summary of salinity data collected in Verlorenvlei during the 1978 to Figure 2.14: Monthly temperature ranges measured in Verlorenvlei ( ) 25 Figure 2.15: Maximum and minimum ph levels recorded in Verlorenvlei ( ) 26 Figure 2.16: Maximum and minimum Secchi disc depth (ranges) recorded in Verlorenvlei (August 1979 and September 2002) as well as turbidity (dots) measured in the system in November Figure 2.17: Maximum and minimum Dissolved oxygen concentrations (ranges) recorded in Verlorenvlei (1978/9 and November 2008) 27 Figure 2.18: DIN (mainly present as total NH4-N) measured in Verlorenvlei in November Figure 2.19: Algal growth in Verlorenvlei estuary channel (Source: CapeNature) 31 Figure 2.20: Wild flowers and wild fig tree occurring along the shores of Verlorenvlei 32 Figure 2.21: Birds at Verlorenvlei 37 Table 3.2: Summary of estimated annual value for Verlorenvlei Estuary in 2008 money terms (all amounts in R 000) 47 Figure 4.1: Cyanobacterial bloom observed in Verlorenvlei during the November 2008 field visit 51 Figure 4.2: Alien vegetation in the Verlorenvlei floodplain 53 Figure 4.3: Location of the old causeways at the mouth and near the railway bridge (November 2008) 53 Figure 4.4: Road bridge crossing to Elands Bay showing increased reed growth above the bridge 54 Figure 4.5: Closure of informal road crossing near the Sishen-Saldanha railway bridge 55 Page x v iii

21 Figure 4.6: Stone jetty used for direct abstraction of water from the Verlorenvlei 55 Figure 4.7: Fences cutting through wetland vegetation in the upper Verlorenvlei 56 Figure 4.8: Bird hide in upper Verlorenvlei 56 Figure 4.9: Low-lying developments neat the mouth of Verlorenvlei 57 Figure 4.10: Building rubble on Verlorenvlei floodplain 59 Figure 4.11: Increased reed growth in upper Verlorenvlei 60 Figure 4.12: Evidence of destruction of reeds beds by burning 61 Figure 4.13: Gillnetting in upper vlei 63 Figure 4.14: Cattle grazing on saltmarsh vegetation in the middle Verlorenvlei 64 Figure 6.1: Employment by industry at Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay in 2001 (Census 2001) 76 Figure 6.2: Education levels from Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay in 2001 (Census 2001) 76 Figure 6.3. Examples of the sectorial plans captured in the Cedeberg District municipality s IDP 78 Page xix

22 Tables Table 2.1: WR90 estimates for precipitation and surface run-off per catchment (DWAF 2003) 12 Table 2.2: Volume of groundwater abstracted per quaternary catchment for Verlorenvlei 13 Table 2.3: The five major categories of fishes which utilize South African estuaries (After Whitfield 1994) 33 Table 2.4: A list of all species recorded in Verlorenvlei by DWAF 2003 (a) by Harrison et al (b), Sinclair et al (c), Robertson 1980 (d) and Poggenpoel 1996 (e). The species are classified into five major categories of estuarine-dependence as suggested by Whitfield 1994, Table 3.1. Introduced species indicated by an asterisk* 34 Table 2.5: A list of carnivorous species recorded in Verlorenvlei 38 Table 2.6: Provisional Present Ecological Health Status for the Verlorenvlei Estuary 39 Table 3.1: Ecosystem goods, services and attributes based on definitions by Costanza et al. (1997) that are likely to be provided by temperate South African estuaries (Turpie 2007) 42 Table 4.1: Environmental hazards posing a potential threat to services provided by estuaries 50 Table 6.1: Population statistics for Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay (combined) in 1996 and Table 6.2: Age group and gender statistics for Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay (combined) in 1996 and Table 6.3: Supporting programmes of South Africa s Wetlands Conservation Programme 82 Table 6.4: Table 7.1: Table 7.2: Summary of the recommended extent of protection required for the estuaries in the temperate regions of South Africa (Turpie and Clarke 2007) 85 An overview of key activities and linkages to potential environmental problems if managed inappropriately 96 Environmental impacts and socio-economic consequences potentially associated with specific problems 97 Table 7.3: Summary of relevant legislation and responsible departments/authorities pertaining to identified activities in Verlorenvlei 98 Table 7.4: Summary of (negative) impacts on Verlorenvlei (depicted as H= high; M = medium; L = low) and the status of existing legislation and management initiatives (G = good; F = Fair; P = poor) pertaining to identified activities 100 Page xx

23 Abbreviations and Acronyms C.A.P.E. Cape Action Plan for the People and the Environment CapeNature Western Cape Nature Conservation Board CFR Cape Floristic Region CMA Catchment Management Agency CMS Catchment Management Strategies DEAT Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism DWAF Department of Water Affairs and Forestry EFR Ecological Flow Requirement EMP Estuarine Management Plan GEF Global Environmental Facility ICM Integrated Catchment Management ICZM Integrated Coastal Zone Management IDP Integrated Development Plan LUM Land Use Management MAP Management Action Plans MCM Branch: Marine and Coastal Management, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism MLRA Marine Living Resources Act (No. 18 of 1998) NEMA National Environmental Management Act (No. 107 of 1998) NEMP National Estuarine Management Protocol NGO Non-governmental Organisation NWA National Water Act (No. 36 of 1998) NWRS National Water Resources Strategies RDM Resource Directed Measures RQO Resource Quality Objectives SDF Spatial Development Framework WSDP Water Services Development Plan WUA Water User Association Page xxi

24 Acknowledgements Project Team L van Niekerk (Project Leader and Main author) with contributions from: S Taljaard Water Quality and Estuarine management JK Turpie Resource Economics SJ Lamberth Estuarine ecology and fish P Morant Estuarine ecology, report review P Huizinga Physical dynamics J de Wet Resource Economics C Petersen GIS and spatial data J Burger Biodiversity and existing management initiatives N Job Spatial data S Sono Existing management initiatives C.A.P.E. Estuaries Task Team: A Matoti Marine and Coastal Management, Department of Environmental Affairs P de Villiers C.A.P.E. Estuaries Coordinator Key Stakeholders: J Burger CapeNature C Malherbe West Coast District Municipality N Jobb Working for Wetlands Page x x ii

25 Planned documents for this Project: 1 2 Development of the Estuarine Management Plan for Verlorenvlei: Situation Assessment (this document) Development of the Estuarine Management Plan for Verlorenvlei: Draft Estuarine Management Plan Page x x iii

26 1. Chapter 1: Introduction Page 1

27 1.1 Introduction The C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme was developed to ensure the conservation and sustainable utilisation of the estuarine biodiversity in the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). The Programme follows a strategic, integrated approach to estuarine management. Cooperative governance is seen as a key requirement for the success of the project. The proposed National Estuarine Management Protocol (NEMP) (as proposed in the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act (No. 24 of 2008)) is the recommended approach for establishing broad alignment on a national and regional scale. To pilot-test the strategic concept, the C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme was designed in accordance with the guidelines of the proposed NEMP. The comprehensive C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme will be the first of its kind in South Africa, perhaps internationally, and will be a test case for the incorporation of strategic decision making into estuarine management. The C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme will take a phased approach. Phase I (2005 to 2009) will focus on the design and testing of the process delineated by the proposed NEMP in a number of pilot estuaries in the CFR. It is proposed that Phase II (2009 to 2014) will extend the Programme to include the more complex estuaries (from a management perspective) in the region. The purpose of this study is to develop an Estuarine Management Plan (EMP) for Verlorenvlei to futher test and help refine the proposed framework for a generic estuarine management plan for in the estuaries of the CFR. The Verlorenvlei EMP, including all its supporting documentation, should be viewed as a living document to which stakeholders are continuously contributing and refining through implementation. Guiding the process is the strategic vision for estuaries in the CFR: Our estuaries are beautiful, rich in plants and animals, they attract visitors, sustain our livelihoods and uplift our spirits. This vision translates into a formal statement that reads as follows: The estuaries of the Cape Floral Region sustain our spiritual and economic well-being through their biophysical attributes and production of goods and services, which are made possible by the maintenance of their biodiversity and ecosystem functions (integrity). This formal vision highlights the following aspects of our estuaries, which we value and which we need to enhance and manage: The contribution of our estuaries to our spiritual well-being; The role that our estuaries play in our economic welfare; Our dependency on the goods and services that our estuaries provide; The importance of the biophysical attributes of our estuaries; and The value of maintaining the biodiversity and ecosystem function of our estuaries so that we can derive these benefits from our systems. Page 2

28 The formal vision was developed to highlight to the scientists and managers the aspects of the estuaries of the CFR that are deemed important and to communicate this to the larger scientific community and funding bodies. The key aspects highlighted in the strategic vision for the CFR estuaries should be foremost in the minds of the stakeholders (local communities, authorities, town planners etc.) that are tasked with drafting the Verlorenvlei EMP. 1.2 Scope of Work The objective of this project is the development of an EMP for the Verlorenvlei Estuary in the CFR following the C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme generic framework guidelines (Van Niekerk and Taljaard 2007). The project is to explore the strengths and weakness of the proposed framework and develop innovative approaches to overcome unforeseen constraints where reality differs from the ideal world. Ultimately the project must provide a practical, implementable Estuary Management Plan for the Verlorenvlei Estuary. The Terms of Reference for the development of the EMP required that the following aspects be addressed: Field visit to assess the current status and health of Verlorenvlei; Preparation of a Situation Assessment; Setting the Vision, Objectives, Management Strategies and Management Action Plans for the Verlorenvlei Estuary (including an Estuarine Zonation Plan); and Design a monitoring and evaluation programme. Outputs were based on existing scientific information and consultation with experts. To encapsulate site specific issues a local stakeholder workshop will be conducted. The level of detail provided by the authorities and local stakeholders would be very dependent on their interest in, and commitment to, the Verlorenvlei EMP. The lack of scientific information on the system is an important constraint to the effective design and implementation of an Estuary Management Plan for Verlorenvlei. No comprehensive Ecological Water Requirement study has been undertaken, i.e. following the accepted Estuarine Resource Directed Measures methodology (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF)). There has been, however, a study focused on groundwater in the environs of Verlorenvlei which treated the system purely as a freshwater wetland and largely disregarded its estuarine flow requirements. Estuaries differ from wetlands in that they not only receive freshwater input (be it surface water or groundwater) but also rely on interaction with the marine environment for effective ecosystem functioning. The more the freshwater inflow to a temporarily open/closed estuary is reduced, the less interaction with the marine environment occurs. This emphasis on mouth conditions and changes in salinity regime is not a requirement of the wetland Resource Directed Measures methodology. As the information on the Verlorenvlei Estuary is patchy and incomplete this situation was remedied, at least sufficiently to enable the preparation of the management plan, by means of a field reconnaissance visit to (re)familiarize the project team with the Verlorenvlei system. This was augmented by a small specialists workshop to summarize the available information on the biophysical functioning of the system and to evaluate the present health status of the estuary. In addition, recommendations to improve or maintain its present condition will be made. Page 3

29 Using available information and the insights developed during the site visit and workshop a Situation Assessment of the present state of the Verlorenvlei Estuary was prepared. The Situation Assessment is to serve as a discussion document for setting the vision and objectives, and determining the management strategies and estuarine zonation plan for input to an EMP. The situation assessment will include a summary of the: Legal requirements relevant to Verlorenvlei Estuary; The biophysical environment; Requirements stipulated in existing management strategies; the socio-economic environment; Conservation planning or Ramsar management strategies; Exploitation of living resources (fishing); and Provide detail on gaps in the knowledgebase and future research needs. 1.3 Need for Estuarine Management Local and international experience indicates that the most fundamental pitfall in achieving sustainable use and biodiversity protection is the fragmentation of the responsibility of estuarine management among the different national, provincial and local-government agencies (Van Niekerk & Taljaard 2003). Although the value of estuaries is often reflected in the activities that they support, inappropriate management and control can result in a net loss of value to society (Turpie and Clark 2007). Estuaries constitute the interface between land and sea. They form, therefore, a critical node to be considered in the overall planning process. This implies that conservation, resource utilisation, development and water-resources planning must take cognisance of the needs of estauries to ensure a sustainable future for all who depend on their goods and services. The National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act (No. 24 of 2008) explicitly states the requirement for a NEMP, and individual EMPs for every South African Estuary. Furthermore, for the effective implementation of an EMP at the local level, it must be incorporated officially into district and/or local Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Spatial Development Frameworks (SDFs), a requirement under the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act (No. 32 of 2000). For example, the Integrated Environmental Programme developed as part of the West Coast District Municipality IDPs provides an avenue for the inclusion of the Verlorenvlei EMP in the larger planning framework for the region. Another possible route for providing an EMP with legal status is through the water-resource classification process under the National Water Act. This may, however, hold only for priority estuaries in South Africa, as this is currently the focus of the Department of Water Affairs Water Resources Classification process. Page 4

30 1.4 Components of an EMP The following key components need to be addressed as part of an EMP (Figure 1.1): Situation Assessment and Evaluation; The setting of a Vision and Strategic objectives; The evaluation of Management Strategies to achieve the vision and objectives; The preparation of an Estuarine Zonation Plan and the establishment of Operational Objectives; The identification of Management Action Plans (MAPs); The Implementation of the MAPs; and Monitoring. Situation Assessment and Evaluation: In the initial stages of developing individual EMPs, it is important to conduct a Situation Assessment and Evaluation based mainly on available information. The Situation Assessment and Evaluation should be undertaken ideally in consultation with a qualified team of social and natural (estuarine) scientists. Vision and Strategic Objectives: The Situation Assessment and Evaluation provide the basis for setting a realistic and achievable vision and strategic objectives for a particular system. It also provides a means to ensure that stakeholder expectations are aligned with the limitations, opportunities and constraints of the ecological and socio-economic environments early in the process, i.e. unrealistic expectations are not raised. Management Strategies: Once the Vision and Strategic Objectives have been developed for a particular estuary, they need to be evaluated against existing management strategies as well as the local ecological and socio-economic opportunities and constraints. The Vision and Strategic Objectives are achieved through a range of broad Management Strategies, which should be prioritised so that limited financial and human resources are utilised effectively. Estuarine Zonation Plan (EZP) and Operational Objectives: Once there is agreement on the Management Strategies these need to be translated into an EZP and Operational Objectives. An EZP needs to demarcate aspects such as the geographical boundaries of the estuary, conservation areas, important biophysical features; and areas in which recreational and industrial activities take place. Operational objectives specify the standards, target values or thresholds of potential concerns relevant to the various activities. The EZP and Operational Objectives, become the Blueprint for a particular estuary against which all developments and activities should be tested for compliance. Management Action Plans (MAPS): A full range of management actions should be identified to enable the achievement of the Operational Objectives. Implementation: Implementation of the MAPs varies from system to system depending on site-specific activities and developments. It is important that management actions are executed within established legal, policy and/or best-practice frameworks. Page 5

31 Figure 1.1: The generic framework for the development and implementation of EMPS Monitoring: The sustainable management of estuaries only can be achieved by being based on appropriate and reliable quantitative data. The collection, processing and interpretation of such data are, however, time-consuming and costly and often require considerable scientific expertise. The long-term monitoring of estuaries is site-specific and depends on the type of activities and developments occurring within, and around, the system as well as the site-specific physical, biogeochemical and ecological characteristics and their variability. Long-term monitoring is a dynamic, iterative process that needs to be adjusted continuously, without compromising its scientific integrity, to incorporate new knowledge, thereby supporting the principle of adaptive management. Page 6

32 2. Chapter 2: Verlorenvlei Catchment Page 7

33 2.1 Geology and Geomorphology The surface geology of the Verlorenvlei catchment consists of rocks of the about Table Mountain Group (30 %); Tertiary to recent sands (40%); and exposed, fine grained rocks of the Malmesbury Group (30%)(Sinclair et al 1986). Malmesbury Group The Malmesbury Group (Proterozoic) has been subdivided on lithological grounds into three groups, calcareous, quartzose and phyllite with greywacke. The calcareous group comprises pure limestone, dolomitic limestone and dolomite. Carbonaceous patches and calcareous rocks grade into quartz-rich varieties. The quartzose group consist of quartzite, schist, conglomerate, arkose and grit with interbedded phylilite and greywacke layers. The remaining group contains greywacke and blue-black phylite in varying proportions. Klipheuwel Formation The Klipheuwel Formation (Proterozoic) comprises the following: purple to reddish brown sandy micaceous shale which is mostly poorly-bedded and grades into mudstone; alternating beds of sandstone, shaly sandstone and sandy shale with colours ranging from buff to purple and red; white and brightly coloured sandstone and grit with minor conglomerate and shale layers. The arencaeous strata are commonly cross-bedded, quite often feldspathic, and much softer than the Table Mountain Group sandstone. The maximum thickness exposed on the eastern boundary of this area amounts to about 375m. Table Mountain Group The lower portion of the Table Mountain Group (Upper Silurian-Lower Devonian) is found throughout the area. The basal portion of the series is characterised by numerous thick but lenticular conglomerate bands, the pebbles of which consist predomanntly of vein quartz. The major constituent of the group is medium to coarse-grained, white to reddish brown sandstone, which is thickly bedded, and commonly cross-bedded. Fine grained shaly sandstone is confined to the lower shale band. Tertiary to Recent Deposits White to slightly-reddish sandy soil found over large areas was formed at more than one period and at different altitudes. It originated mainly from the underlying unconsolidated to partly-consolidated sand and clay, and to a lesser extent from the Table Mountain Group, the coastal dunes, and fluviatile deposits of past and present drainage systems. Rubble and debris are found in numerous places at the foot of cliffs and along small streams that flow down hillsides after heavy downpours. The river is flanked by strips of alluvium, part of it being black and rich in plant material. Several patches of driftsand and bare dunes away from the coast originated mostly from Page 8

34 mismanagement of the veld. A large dune field occurs to the north of the river mouth and the town of Elandsbaai. 'Heuweltjies' or Hummocks Figure 2.1 Map of the geology of Verlorenvlei catchment The phenomenon of 'heuweltjies' occurs on the Verlorenvlei area, and is easily detectable from the ground and in aerial photographs. They include calcareous layers and a higher clay content in the soil derived from old termitaria. The activity of mole rats may also contribute to the formation of 'heuweltjies'. Geology adjacent to Verlorenvlei Extensive low-lying sand flats (Tertiary to Recent) occur to the north and east of the lake and slope gently up to a series of low hills of the Table Mountain Group which form the catchment boundary in this area. On the southern side, the lake lies against the base of a continuous range of low sandstone hills averaging some 120m Page 9

35 above sea-level, with Muishoekberg (300m) forming the only prominent peak. A fairly level plateau of Tertiary to Recent sands lies behind these hills. Outcrops of shales of the Klipheuwel Formation occur at a few places at the base of the hills on the southern side of the lake. The vlei, the hills on its south bank, and the 'krantzline' are all orientated in a NW/SE direction. These features follow the direction of the geological faults running through the area. The Table Mountain Group lies horizontally over large areas, but is also folded into broad open anticlines and synclines with axes striking north or northwest. Along Verlorenvlei itself are two minor folds formed along axes striking northeast (Sinclair et al 1986). 2.2 Soils The Verlorenvlei catchment is classified as a zone of littoral sands (arenosols), or of aeolian origin (Von Harmse 1978). Salient feature of these soils is their low reserve of weatherable minerals, and the low silt/clay ratio. The coastal lowlands consist of sands and conglomerates of Tertiary to Recent origins (Taylor 1987), with low waterretaining capacity, being either acid and relatively infertile or, nearer the coast, alkaline with a distinct horizon of lime accumulation. The 'heuweltjies' or hillocks have higher clay content than the surrounding soils. The general Verlorenvlei area is characterized by a fine sandy soil. On the southern shore, extending from Elandsbaai to Redelinghuys, are isolated sections classified as rock and undifferentiated lithosols. Rubble and debris are found in numerous places at the foot of cliffs and along small streams that flow down hillsides after heavy downpours. The river is flanked by strips of alluvium, part of it being black and rich in plant material. Several patches of drift sand and bare dunes away from the coast originated mostly from mismanagement of the veld. A large dune field occurs to the north of the estuary mouth and the town of Elandsbaai. 2.3 Climate and Runoff Catchment The catchment of Verlorenvlei is about 87km long in a north-west/south-east direction and up to 43km wide. Its surface area is estimated by Noble and Hemens (1987) to be 1 890km 2, or ha. The catchment is bounded by the Swartberg and Olifantsrivierberge in the east and by the Piketberg in the south, and includes the Eendekuil basin, a low-lying area lying between the Olifantsrivierberge and the Piketberg. The Verlorenvlei system comprises several rivers and four quaternary catchments (G30B, G30C, G30D and G30E) draining the low relief, sandy coastal plain, with most of the water originating in the eastern edges of the Cape Folde Belt in the upper reaches of the river (DWAF 2003). Page 10

36 At the outlet of catchment G30E the Kruis River is gauged (the only gauging point in the entire G30 catchment) and immediately thereafter confluences with the Bergvallei River, and further downstream with the Krom Antonies and the Hol Rivers, and with the Wittevallei at Redelinghuys. These tributaries make a considerable contribution of good quality water to the lower river (G30D). The upper catchments of all of these rivers have been severely impacted by farming, as will be apparent from the pivot irrigation analysis. Ploughing in certain reaches of the Bergvallei has been extended right through the river bed. Downstream of G30E the river flows through a wide sandy and flat valley, and in which the river displays a high degree of braiding and wetland characteristics at intervals. The Verlorenvlei wetland system begins upstream of Redelinghuys and extends downstream into the extensive reedbeds which continue for much of the length of the vlei to the ocean (DWAF 2003). Figure 2.2 Verlorenvlei catchment map Climate Verlorenvlei has a mild Mediterranean climate with predominantly sunny days throughout the year. The area has an average annual rainfall of less than 300mm of which 80% falls in the winter period (April to September) and very little in summer (Table 2.1 and Figure 2.3). Single very rare heavy showers can account for as much as the normal annual precipitation. Hail is seldom reported in this region. Page 11

37 Table 2.1: WR90 estimates for precipitation and surface run-off per catchment (DWAF 2003) Catchment Catchment Area CMAP(mm) MAR (x10 3 m 3 ) (hectares) G30B 65, G30C 35, G30D 53, G30E 35, Figure 2.3 The mean annual precipitation and potential annual evaporation rate for Verlorenvlei Catchment Runoff Noble and Hemens (1978) estimates the mean annul runoff at 102 x10 6 m 3. The Sandveld Reserve Study revised this estimate down to 89 x10 6 m 3 based on the WR90 model defaults. This doe not take into account any direct contributions of groundwater into the system. No more detailed quantitative data are available (in spite of the Sandveld Reserve study). It is very important that the both the natural and present day inflow to the system be quantified. Groundwater Groundwater provides an important source of freshwater to Verlorenvlei. Fresh groundwater (EC ms/m) contributes to the river/wetland from the north. Two specific areas have very fresh groundwater (EC 10 ms/m) and the exact source of this water is unknown, but is suspected to be deep groundwater flow from recharged groundwater up in the higher lying areas. The groundwater towards the south of the Verlorevlei has an EC of between 100 and 200 ms/m. It is unknown if this Page 12

38 water contributes to the water balance of the Verlorevlei river. An estimated m 3 d -1 groundwater is contributed to the Verlorevlei G30E catchment (DWAF 2003). The volume of groundwater abstracted for irrigation purposes was calculated for 1998, based on summer and winter Landsat5 images (DWAF 2003). The RDM study assumed that 95% of all irrigation water was abstracted from groundwater, with the remainder being abstracted from surface water. In summer an average irrigation rate is 1000mm/ha/season. In winter this rate reduces to 600 mm/ha/season. There are typically two potato-growing seasons per year. The satellite image classification involved a the identification of centre pivot circles and then classifying them as: unvegetated (dry), cover crop or intensively irrigated. Table 2.2 below shows the volume of groundwater abstracted per quaternary catchment for Verlorenvlei. A calculation was also carried out to indicate the relative volume of groundwater abstracted per unit area for each catchment. Table 2.2: Volume of groundwater abstracted per quaternary catchment for Verlorenvlei Catchment Summer (m 3 /year) Winter (m 3 /year) Total (m 3 /year) Total (Mm 3 /yea r) Catchment Area (ha) Abstraction/ Area ratio G30B G30C G30D G30E Groundwater recharge in the Verlorenvlei area is mainly controlled by rainfall, which in its turn is controlled by topography. The higher lying areas of the catchments (G30E) therefore are regarded as the main recharge areas (Figure 2.4). The upper catchment receives about 500mm rainfall of which 130mm are expected to reach the groundwater (28% RE). The recharge zone at the foot of the mountains is expected to receive between 250 and 300mm rainfall with about 15mm reaching the groundwater (5% RE). The rest of the catchment receives about 200mm rainfall of which not more than 2mm replenishes the groundwater (1% RE). Figure 2.4 shows the spatial distribution of key recharge areas in the Verlorenvlei catchment. The Resource Quality Objectives stipulated for the Sandveld Reserve study recommended that no additional users of the ground or surface water be permitted. It was further recommended that the lawfulness of the users in these areas be evaluated and illegal use of water should be stopped. A monitoring network to evaluate the seasonal impact of abstraction is in place and will assist in future to better quantify the impacts of the users of the resources (DWAF 2003). Page 13

39 Figure 2.4: Groundwater recharge areas (Source: N Job) 2.4 Historical Land use Our Archaeological Heritage There are a number of important archaeological sites in the Elands bay area near Verlorenvlei. The exact location of most of these sites is not published to protect them from vandalism. Sinclair et al (1986) list some important cave and open archaeological sites worthy of protection and further research: Baboon Point, including the Elands Bay Cave. The Diepkloof/Witklip/Grootdrift complex, including caves and rock art. Two series of shell middens, one extending along the coast southwards from the mouth of the vlei and the other northwards. The archeological sites near Verlorenvlei provide a record of prehistoric settlements in the area. Elands Bay Cave is one of the most significant archaeological sites in southern Africa. The archaeological sequence goes back at least as far as the Pleistocene ( BP). Excavations at Elands Bay Cave (and other sites close by) are providing important data on palaeo- environmental changes such as the rise and fall in sea level over the past years. Today the site is near the sea, but about years ago the sea was about 40km away. The area between the cave and the sea was a marshy plain which attracted many animals, in particular megafauna. The remains of these extinct animals have been excavated by University of Cape Town archaeologists, who have also found numerous human burials from a more recent archaeological period inside and in front of the cave. Page 14

40 The site has also provided insights into the subsistence patterns and settlement arrangements of the hunter-gatherers and pastoral people during the Holocene period. About 2000 years ago, the arrival in the area of pastoral peoples, with their different lifestyles and large herds of domesticated animals, affected the traditional hunter gatherer way of life (Sinclair et al 1986). At least 90 rock art sites are present occur near Verlorenvlei, most of them in the Table Mountain Group outcrops along the southern shore of the vlei. Analyses of the art show that this was an important area for both the hunter-gatherers and the herding peoples. Naturalistic images of animals and humans are found throughout Southern Africa, but elements such as handprints are mostly limited in their distribution to the Western and Southern Cape. Handprints are especially common around Verlorenvlei which was a major focal point for prehistoric and early historic hunting and herding people. For example at Elands Cave, apart from the remains of a large painting of an eland and a fat-tailed sheep, the rock surface is covered with many red handprints, most of which are what are known as "decorated handprints". Handprints are among the most appealing but enigmatic images in rock art. Ethnographic accounts point to the perception that paint was considered to be supernaturally powerful. Eland blood, which was very potent, was sometimes used as a binder for the paint. In order to enter the spirit world that lay behind the rock surface, shamans needed to harness supernatural power. Touching the rock with a supernaturally powerful substance was probably tantamount to entering the spirit world While the cave sites are difficult to protect because of their visibility the open middens are vulnerable to agricultural activities, collection of shells for lime making and vehicles on the beaches. The significant amount of artefacts found in the Verlorenvlei area suggest that man has been in this area more or less continuously for the last years. There are few area in sub-saharan Africa which hold the same potential for significant archaeological reconstruction of the human race. Sinclair et al (1986) proposed a broad conservation area to protect the known and unknown archaeological sites for future research. 2.5 Land-use Natural As Verlorenvlei is a proclaimed a Ramsar site (No. 525) the vlei itself is owned by the state. The southern shores of the vlei is also relatively natural, with some grazing by goats and cattle. Figure 2.5 provides an indication of the spatial distribution of the areas in which natural and near natural land cover still occur. From this it is quite clear that the upper catchment is much more heavily cultivated in comparison with the less disturbed lower parts of the catchment. Page 15

41 Industrial Important fishing grounds are present along the coast in the vicinity of Elandsbaai and there area few small fish processing factories at Baboon Point. These factories are mostly concerned with processing rock lobster although a small amount of fish processing does occur?. Urban The small village of Elandsbaai lies along the coast near the mouth of Verolrenvlei. There has been a increase in residential development around the vlei in recent times. This trend is likely to continue as one of the major constraints to development in the past was the very bad gravel road between Elandsbaai and Piketberg to the east and Dwarskersbos to the south. Figure 2.5: Land use in the catchment of Verlorenvlei Page 16

42 Agricultural The area surrounding Verlorenvlei is privately owned and farm boundaries extend to the 50 year flood line. Fields have been established along part of the lake margins and extend below the high water mark in places. Extensive ploughing has been undertaken in the surrounding area particularly on the hills south of Verlorenvlei. The greater part of the Verlorenvlei wetlands are used as natural veld grazing for sheep and cattle and water is pumped for irrigation purposes. Since the mid 1980s centre pivot irrigation has become the major agricultural activity in the catchment following the introduction of electricity by Eskom (Figure 2.6). The center-pivot boom relies on electric power to drive the system in its circular motion. Most of the indigenous vegetation being cleared for center-pivots in the surveyed region is Strandveld veld type (DWAF 2003). This is described as an open semisucculent scrub of fynbos form, intermediate between Coastal Fynbos and Succulent Karroo. The majority of the center-pivot systems in the area are used for the irrigation of potatoes, with approximately 70 % used for seed potato cultivation. One of the most notable features of center-pivot irrigation in these sandy areas is the small percentage of circular fields, which are supporting an actively growing crop at any given time. The motivation for this practice is the disease fee-conditions required for seed potato production. Until 1991 the rule was that seed potato producers were not allowed to cultivate seed potatoes on the same land for two years following the cultivation of a seed crop (DWAF 2003). However, since the beginning of 1992 the Potato Board has increased this fallow period to three years. Because farmers usually operate a single boom that is moved from field to field, more land is needed to be cleared today to ensure the same yield as was obtained prior to 1992 (DWAF 2003). It was estimated that in 2002 approximately 7500 ha was the total area under cultivation, with 2500 ha being for seed potato and 5000 ha table potato (DWAF 2003). For example, a farmer wanting to cultivate 20 hectares of seed potatoes would need to clear four 20 ha circles (80 ha) and would cultivate one circle per year, moving the center-pivot to the appropriate field each year. The Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (Act 43 of 1983) recommends that land owners should protect cultivated land against excessive soil loss as a result of wind erosion during periods that they are not cultivated. This can be achieved by means of: erecting wind rows, crop rotation systems, cover crops and leaving crop residues on the land following the harvest. However, as some potato pests utilise groundcover plants as additional host plants, thereby prolonging the pest presence in the fields, many circles are left completely bare. The reason for this is that addition cover crops such as oats, rye and triticale often require irrigation, at least until establishment. This, in turn, requires the presence of a center-pivot which the farmer would be unwilling to move to water an unproductive crop (DWAF 2003). The exception is an economically more attractive crop such as watermelons cultivated as an in-between crop. The agricultural extension officers advise that the seeds of a cover crop be sown and watered to ensure plant establishment before the irrigation boom is removed from the field (DWAF 2003). As centre- pivot fields are left bare between crops it greatly increases the amount of sediment entering the rivers of the Verlorenvlei catchment which ultimately ends up in the upper vlei. This in turn is Page 17

43 considered to be one of the major reasons for the increased Typha (bull rush) growth in the upper Verlorenvlei. Figure 2.6: Aerial photograph of the active and inactive center-pivot crop fields adjacent to Verlorenvlei (Source: CapeNature) Page 18

44 Chapter 3: Verlorenvlei Estuary Page 19

45 2.6 Background Verlorenvlei extends between the West Coast villages of Elandsbay and Redelinghuys and open into Elands Bay approximately 25 km north of Lambert's Bay, the nearest town. Verlorenvlei (32 24 S E) is one of the largest estuarine lakes in South Africa and is one of the country s few coastal freshwater lakes. Figure 2.7Locality map of Verlorenvlei Page 20

46 2.7 Abiotic Features Physical The wetlands of the Verlorenvlei system is between 1 and 5 m above mean sea level. Its surface area is estimated to be km 2, or ha ( ). The average depth of open water area of the lake is between 2 and 3 metres with maximum depth of 5 metres (Robertson 1980). A small estuarine channel about 2.6 km connects the lake to the sea. The entire channel is very shallow (about 0,5m deep), tending to inhibit free water exchange. During the dry summer months the mouth is usually closed by a sandbar overlying a rocky sill and the estuarine channel may be reduced to a few series of stagnant saline pools. The bar is formed by wave action and a south-going longshore current in combination with frequent onshore winds. When good rains provide sufficient water the lake and estuary fills and the bar is overtopped. The outflowing water scours the sandbar away thus permitting some tidal interaction. Tidal exchange continues until the velocity of the outflowing water decrease sufficiently so as to allow the accretion of sand to form a new bar at the mouth. During storms and high spring tides the sea washes over the sandbar (Figure 2.8). Sea water is reported to penetrate as far as Verloren Farm (Robertson 1980). Figure 2.8: Dried kelp wrack on inside of Verlorenvlei sand spit There are four major obstructions to tidal exchange in the lower vlei: the mouth; a rocky sill (that used to be a causeway); a cuaseway below the railway bridge and the road crossing to Elands Bay. In addition to the constrictions in the estuary there are also two causeways in the upper vlei at Grootddrift and Redelinghuys that also pose a constraint to circulation. Page 21

47 Mouth: The rocky barrier at the mouth (~1 m MSL) is covered by a 1 to 2 m thick sand layer. Since mean high tide is about 0.8 m MSL, overwash from the sea can only occur during high spring tides and storm surges (Figure 2.9). Evidence of overwash is clearly to be seen as dried kelp wracks on the sand spit near the mouth or decaying pieces of kelp in the lower mouth area (Sinclair et al 1986). During the November 2008 field visit the mouth of the Verlorenvlei was open, but perched, with fresh water running strongly out to sea on the ebb tide and entering the estuary in a very limited manner on the flood tide, i.e. the mouth acted as a natural constriction to tidal flows. Figure 2.9: Mouth of Verlorenvlei, November 2008 Rocky sill 500m from the mouth: The concrete causeway that used to run across the estuary channel, was recently removed and the underlying bed rock exposed (Figure 2.10). This allows for free outflow of water from the vlei, but still acts as a natural obstruction to normal tidal flows. Seawater is only expected to penetrate beyond this point during high spring tides and storm surges. Although this rocky sill represents a hydraulic constriction to tidal flows it is now deep enough to allow for the recruitment of invertebrates and fish into the system. This was demonstrated during the November 2008 field visit by the presence of the first recoded juvenile steenbras in Verlorenvlei since the 1970s.The Working for Wetlands programme should be commended for the removal of this constriction as it has greatly assisted in enhancing the ecological value of the vlei. Page 22

48 Figure 2.10: The rocky sill causing a natural obstruction about 500 m from the mouth to tidal exchange Railway bridge crossing: The railway bridge crossing obstruction is situated about 1 km from the mouth and use to form part of the maintenance road that runs along the Sishen/Saldanha railway line (Figure 2.11). The road is raised 1 m above the river bed on a crude rubble and clay causeway. This obstruction prevents a free connection to the vlei and reduces the nursery function of the system. It is strongly recommended that the Working for Wetlands programme assit with the removal of this constriction. About m 3 of rubble and earth needs to be removed to restore this section of the channel obstruction to a more natural state. Figure 2.11: Railway bridge crossing Road crossing: The main road to Elands Bay from Dwarskersbos crosses the uppermost narrow section of the estuary channel (2.6 km upstream of the mouth) via a 180 m long embankment about 2 m above the lake bed level (Figure 2.12). Only about 20 % of the embankment is open, with large box culverts which allow flow to pass through (Sinclair et al 1986). Although this constriction does not pose a Page 23

49 major constraint to flow under normal conditions, it does prevent normal circulation and has contributed to the substantial vegetation growth in the lower vlei. The culverts also are a constriction under flood conditions and contribute to backflooding of adjacent land. Figure 2.12: Road bridge crossing bisecting the estuary from the lake Grootdrift causeway: The causeway at Grootdrift hinders the natural meandering of the channel and flow in the upper vlei. The causeway only allows limited flow through 5 box culverts and 3 pipe culverts. The result is a more stagnant conditions and a related increase in sedimentation and vegetation growth. It is very important that an effort be made to increase the flow through the causeway. Redelinghuys causeway: Similar to the Grootdrift causeway the Redelinghuys causeway also restricts flow and reduce free moement of the upper channels, resulting in sedimentation and increased vegetation growth in upper Verlorenvlei. Again, every effort should be made to increase the flow through the causeway. Water Quality Salinity. Salinity data on Verlorenvlei is summarised in Figure 3.2 (Robertson, 1980; Grindley et al, 1980; DWAF 2003; this study). Verlorenvlei normally functions as a freshwater system: the mouth is perched and only allows occasional seawater inflow during high spring tides and stormy conditions at sea. When water levels in the vlei are high, there is a continuous discharge to the sea maintaining freshwater dominated conditions as was observed in September 1985, September 2002 and November 2008 (Figure 3.2). When the water level in the vlei drops, the outflow to the sea no longer occurs creating a stagnant water body in the lower reaches. During these low water levels the shallower areas - downstream of the road crossing can become more saline, even hypersaline when interchanges of fresh water between the larger vlei and this shallow regions are no longer sufficient to counterbalance salt build-up associated with occasional overwash and evaporation. Such conditions were evident in 1978/79 (Figure 2.13) when a drought resulted in a marked drop in water levels and when the old causeway and railway service road were still present, preventing proper exchange between the shallower area and the larger estuary. Page 24

50 /79 range Sep-85 Sep-02 Nov Salinity (ppt) Old causeway Railway bridge Road crossing Distance from mouth (km) Grootdrift Redelinghuis Figure 2.13: Summary of salinity data collected in Verlorenvlei during the 1978 to 2008 Temperature. Temperature data for Verlorenvlei are summarised in Figure 2.14, depicting monthly temperature ranges measured in the estuary and lake over the period 1978 to 2008 (Robertson, 1980; Grindley et al, 1980; DWAF 2003; this study). 40 Temperature ( 0 C) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Figure 2.14: Monthly temperature ranges measured in Verlorenvlei ( ) The temperature regime in Verlorenvlei shows a clear seasonal pattern, with summer temperatures being markedly higher than those in winter. The temperature within the system also shows diurnal variation, depending on the time of day and the prevailing air temperature, as reflected in the wide range of temperature recorded within months. For example, during warmer months, the morning the water temperature can be relatively low (below 20 0 C), but can reach 30 o C at mid-day as the air temperature rises, especially in the shallower areas that are protected from wind mixing. Page 25

51 ph. A summary of the ph data collected in Verlorenvlei over the period 1978 to 2008 is provided in Figure 2.15 (Robertson, 1980; Grindley et al, 1980; DWAF 2003; this study) ph Old causeway Railway bridge Road crossing Distance from mouth (km) Grootdrift Redelinghuis Figure 2.15: Maximum and minimum ph levels recorded in Verlorenvlei ( ) The data indicate that the ph levels in the system generally ranges between 6 and 8. Some higher values were recorded in the shallower areas downstream of the road crossing, and in particular, in the deeper, open areas of the lake were ph levels increased to 9.6. Robertson (1980) attributed the higher ph in the system, compared with river inflow at Redelinghuys, to increased alkalinity as a result of direct groundwater seepage into the systems and/or evaporation. However, high photosynthetic activity, as often occurs in the system, can also result in an increase in ph associated with the rapid abstraction of CO2 from surface waters during photosynthesis (Oyieke & Kokwaro, 1993). Turbidity/Transparency. The available data on water transparency in Verlorenvlei were obtained in 1979 and 2002 using a Secchi disc (Grindley et al, 1980; DWAF 2003). The ranges measured along the estuary during these surveys are illustrated in Figure The results show a tendency for transparency to be less in the lake and in the shallow reaches below the road crossing, compared with the upper reaches (e.g. above Grootdrift). Lower transparency in the lake and shallower areas are probably linked to high water column primary productivity, as well as re-suspension of bottom material (wind mixing), particularly in the shallower areas. Turbidity levels in surface waters, recorded in November 2008 refected a similar pattern, where turbidity in the basin were higher (~70NTU) campared with the upper reaches at Grootdrift (30 NTU). At the time a cyanobacterial (blue green algal) bloom was present in the basin area. Page 26

52 Secchi disc depth (m) Turbidity (NTU) Old causeway Railway bridge Road crossing Distance from mouth (km) Figure 2.16: Maximum and minimum Secchi disc depth (ranges) recorded in Verlorenvlei (August 1979 and September 2002) as well as turbidity (dots) measured in the system in November 2008 Grootdrift Redelinghuis Dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen concentration data for Verlorenvlei during 1978/79 and 2008 are summarised in Figure 2.17 (Robertson, 1980; Grindley, et al., 1980; this study) Dissolved Oxygen (mg/l) Old causeway Railway bridge Road crossing Distance from mouth (km) Grootdrift Redelinghuis Figure 2.17: Maximum and minimum Dissolved oxygen concentrations (ranges) recorded in Verlorenvlei (1978/9 and November 2008) The data show that Verlorenvlei is generally well-oxygenated with concentrations generally above 4 mg/l. The lake is not subject to strong vertical stratification. Prevailing wind turbulence is sufficient to create a well-mixed, aerated water column despite the high organic loading. Page 27

53 Lower oxygen consentrations measured at the railway bridge were associated with deeper bottom waters. This area is more protected from wind compared with the larger basin of the lake, resulting in less efficient mixing of the water column. Robertson (1980) attributed the lower oxygen concentrations occasionally recorded in the upper reaches (Grootdrift) to the high oxygen demand of the shallow, muddy area. High oxygen values (reflecting supersaturation), particular in the deeper basin area, are attributed to the high photosynthetic activity characteristic of this part of the system. In 1978/9 the high levels were linked to the extensive growth of the submerged macrophyte, Myriophyllum spicatum, (Robertson, 1980) and in November 2008 an extensive cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) bloom contributed to the supersaturated conditions. Inorganic nutrients. In its pristine condition Verlorenvlei probably existed as an oligotrophic water body, where nutrient inputs (in particular N) would have been lower compared to the present situation. As a result primary producers in the system were most likely dominated by macrophytes, and possibly benthic microalgae, but extensive water column primary production (phytoplankton blooms) or exceptionally dense submerged macrophyte beds would not have been the norm. Considering the extensive agricultural activities in the catchment under the present situation, river inflow is expected to be a source of inorganic nutrients to the system. This is supported by the marked increase in reed and sedge growth in the system over the years. However, despite this marked increase in primary production, the system is often still classified as being oligotrohic, based on the relatively low nutrient concentrations that are typically measured in the water column (e.g. Robertson, 1980). However, the concentration of inorganic nutrients (e.g. DIN and DIP) in the water column reflects the net effect of the rate at which these nutrients are taken up by primary producers and the rate at which they are regenerated or replaced. For example, a low nutrient concentration could indicate that a particular nutrient is not present in significant amounts, therefore limiting primary production (i.e. oligotrophic), but equally it could simply be the net result of a very rapid uptake by primary producers or loss to the atmosphere (e.g. through denitrification) or slow remineralisation rates (ANZECC 2000). This is important to consider in the interpretation of nutrient measurements. Considering the high primary production in Verlorenvlei, rapid uptake by primary producers is most likely the reason for the low inorganic nutrient concentrations typically observed in the system. Whilst the reeds and sedges in the upper reaches are effective filters of inorganic nutrients from the catchment through rapid uptake, this significant increase growth has most likely created an important secondary source of inorganic nutrients (N) to the estuary, namely in situ remineralisation (i.e. the bacterial breakdown of organic matter into inorganic N and P). Where a significant proportion of water column DIN is present as the reduced NH4-N species (and not as NO3-N) it is usually indicative of significant contributions from remineralisation (It could also be indicative of sewage enrichment, but this is not considered a significant issue in Verlorenvlei). Page 28

54 Inorganic nutrient data dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), dissolved inorganic phosphate (DIP) and dissolved reactive silicate (DRS) were collected from Verlorenvlei during a once-off field survey in November The DIP and DRS concentrations collected from the seven stations along the system did not show any significant trends with average concentrations of 133 and 3327 µg/l, respectively. The DIP concentrations were difficult to interpret, (i.e. whether these were representative of actual contribution from the catchment and/or remineralisation or reflected the net effect of rate of uptake versus rate of supply. The high DRS concentrations were expected in this freshwater dominated system, as such high levels are typical of terrestrial [fluvial] run-off (Eagle and Bartlett, 1984). In terms of the DIN, nitrogen was presently mainly as total NH4-N, with NO3-N and NO2-N below the detection limit (25 µg/l) throughout (indicative of in situ remineralisation being a significant source of DIN). DIN concentrations measured at the various stations are depicted in Figure DIN concentration (ug/l) High DIN concentrations in shallow low er reaches Detection limit Old causeway Railway bridge Road crossing Distance from mouth (km) Grootdrift Redelinghuis Figure 2.18: DIN (mainly present as total NH4-N) measured in Verlorenvlei in November 2008 In the lake and upper estuary, although DIN concentrations were low (almost depleted) an extensive cyanobacterial bloom was present (confirmed by Marine and Coastal Management in November 2008). In contrast, DIN concentrations in the shallows nearer the mouth had significantly elevated DIN concentrations (mainly NH4-N), but less intense algal blooms (based on visual observations). These results support the earlier hypothesis that the low nutrient concentrations (in particular DIN) measured in Verlorenvlei are not indicative of oligotrophic conditions, but rather the result of rapid primary production uptake, i.e. the uptake rate exceeds the supply rate. This difference is probably related to differences in the water residence time (water moving faster in the shallows near the mouth compared with basin not allowing optimal production rates) or differences in remineralisation rates (e.g. remineralisation is more effective in the shallows compared with the lake). Page 29

55 Toxic substances. No measured data were available to assess the presence and extent of toxic substances (e.g. trace metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides) in Verlorenvlei. Although it is not expected that toxic substances typical of urban development (e.g. trace metals and hydrocarbons) be present in the system in significant quantities (i.e. no large urban developments in the area and surrounds), extensive agricultural activities in the catchment and along the banks of the lake may have resulted in some accumulation of pesticides and herbicides. The extent however will have to be confirmed through studies of the sediments and biota. 2.8 Biotic Components Vegetation Algae. Sinclair et al (1986) report that alga blooms, including cyanobacterial such as Microcystis aeruginosa occur in spring. The Sandveld RDM Study also found that the phytoplankton assemblage was representative of an eutrophic system notwithstanding the fact that the lake was phosphorus-imited during the assessment period. The microalgal assemblage mainly comprised cyanobacterial of the genera Anabaena, Lyngbya, Anabaenopsis, Merismopedia, Microcystis with minor contributions from chloro- (Scenedesmus) and bacillariophytes (Cyclotella, Nitschia). The algal assemblage was indicative of an elevation in trophic status that has been in place for some time and probably reflects eutrophication-associated damage to the lower levels of the foodweb (e.g. depauperate zooplankton and coarse fish dominance) (DWAF 2003). A similar cyanobacterial bloom was observed in the lower and middle Verlorenvlei in November While certain species of cyanobacterial are toxic to animal life, not reports of this have been recorded at Verlorenvlei. Large masses of filamentous green algae, including Chaetmorpha and Cladophora, are common in the channel (Figure 2.19), particularly between the railway bridge and the lower causeway, where the water is often stagnant and hypersaline (Sinclair et al 1986). Aquatic vegetation. Verlorenvlei exhibits a transition from salt tolerant species near the mouth to freshwater species further inland. More salt tolerant species include: Sarcocornia natalensis, Scirpus maritimus and Juncus kraussi. Extensive beds of emergent aquatic macrophytes occur along the margins of the vlei with Phragmites australis, Typha latifolia and sedges as dominants. Downstream of Redelinghuys there are fairly wide and open wetlands with patches of mixed sedges and reed communities along the course of the Verlorenvlei River over a distance of 11km. Dense reedbeds are present in the upper part of the lake (Sinclair et al 1986). There has been a substantial increase in Typha and Phragmites growth especially in the lower and upper reaches of Verlorenvlei since the 1930s. Page 30

56 Figure 2.19: Algal growth in Verlorenvlei estuary channel (Source: CapeNature) During the late 1980s Myriophyllum spicatum, a submerged macrophyte, dominated large areas of the lake where the water is less than 2m deep (Sinclair et al 1986). This submerged macrophyte was not a present during the 2003 Sandveld study nor during the 2008 field visit (personal observation). The reason for the switch between macrophytes and microalgal blooms was not clear and is something that needs further investigation. The water lily, (Nymphaea capensis), a species which is becoming rare in South Africa as a result of wetland destruction, occurs in small numbers in the system. Terrestrial Vegetation. The Verlorenvlei wetland is of significant botanical importance, because of its position at the transition between the karroid and fynbos vegetation types (Figure 2.20). The region therefore, has a high diversity typical of an ecotone area (Sinclair et al 1986). The vegetation types are: Seaward dune strandveld; Shrubby strandveld; Restoid strandveld; Saltpan vegetation; Lowland fynbos; Dry mountain fynbos; Mountain fynbos; Karroid scrubland; and Wetland vegetation. The site also supports notable rare plant species, such as Ferraria foliosa, F. densepunctulata, Cerycium venom (presumed extinct) and Cullumia floccosa (Sinclair et al 1986). Page 31

57 Invertebrates Figure 2.20: Wild flowers and wild fig tree occurring along the shores of Verlorenvlei Zooplankton. The zooplakton of the vlei includes estuarine and freshwater elements (Grindley 1979 and Robertson 1980). The most abundant organisms were Copepods, of which the estuarine species Pseudodiaptomus hessei and the freshwater species Diaptomus purcelli were dominant. Various harpacticoid species and the syslopoids (Mesocyclops sp.), Leptocyclops sublaevis and Hemicyclops sp. were less abundant. Large numbers of nauplius larvae and copepodite stages of Copepods were also present (Sinclair et al 1986). The freshwater cladoceran Leydigia propinqua was absent at the mouth but occurred throughout the vlei. Four species of freshwater Ostracods were present. Zonocypris tuberosa and Gypridopsis gregaria occurred at the mouth as well as throughout the vlei, while Eucypris purcelli, Isopris priomena and Paracypretta rubra were only recorded in the vlei (Sinclair et al 1986). Zoea and mysis larvae of Decapoda were present in the vlei. The amphipod Afrochiltonia subtenuis was present at the mouth, Small numbers of Chelicerata, fish larvae and fish eggs (Diameter 0,25mm) were also present. Detritus was present in all samples and some diatoms were recorded (Sinclair et al 1986). Insects. A variety of insect larvae were obtained in the plankton samples, including chironomids and other Diptera, Ephemeroptera, Coleoptera and Hemiptera. The following insects and larvae were recorded by Robertson (1980) as common at Verlorenvlei during 1979 to 1980: Sigara contortuplicata, Tendipes sp., Tachnura senegalensis, Anisops gracilis, Micronecta scutellaris, Hudrophyllida sp., Nychia limpida, Mesogomphus cognatus, egg jelly, chironomids (adult) and Dutiscid (beetle larvae) (Sinclair et al 1986). Other Invertebrates. Specimens of the mollusc Trigonephrus globulus (Mull) were collected the on northern bank of Verlorenvlei during Found along the Cape west coast, up to the Orange River, this species digs down into the sand during the dry summer, and emerges onto the surface when rain falls. The crab Potamonautes periatus was found along the southern shore of the coastal lake in 1985 (Sinclair et al 1986). Page 32

58 Fish A total of 14 fish species from 9 families has been recorded from Verlorenvlei and a further two expected to occur (Harrison et al. 2000, Sinclair et al. 1986, Robertson 1980, Poggenpoel 1996, DWAF 2003). Four (25 %) of these are entirely dependent on estuaries to complete their lifecycles. One, the estuarine round-herring Gilchristella aestuaria, breeds and spends its entire lifecycle in the estuarine environment whereas three, the white steenbras Lithognathus lithognathus, flathead mullet Mugil cephalus and freshwater mullet Myxus capensis are dependent on estuaries as nursery areas for at least their first year of life. In addition, Myxus capensis and to a lesser extent, Mugil cephalus are facultative catadromous species that require estuaries as transit routes between the marine and freshwater environment. A further three (19 %) species namely the harder Liza richardsonii, white stumpnose Rhabdosargus globiceps and Knysna sand-goby Psammogobius knysnaensis are at least partially dependent on estuaries. In all, 44 % of the fish species recorded, or expected to occur, in Verlorenvlei can be regarded as either partially or completely dependent on estuaries for their survival. All 9 (66 %) of the remaining species are euryhaline freshwater species whose penetration into estuaries is determined by salinity tolerance. Three of these, the Cape galaxias Galaxias Zebratus, Cape kurper Sandelia capensis and Berg river Redfin Pseudobarbus bergi are endemic to the southwestern Cape. Six, the Mozambique Tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus, carp Cyprinus carpio, banded tilapia Tilapia sparrmanii, smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu, largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides and tench Tinca tinca are introduced species. Table 2.3: The five major categories of fishes which utilize South African estuaries (After Whitfield 1994) Categories I II III IV V Description of categories Estuarine species which breed in southern African estuaries. Further divided into: Ia. Resident species which have not been recorded spawning in the marine or freshwater environment Ib. Resident species which also have marine or freshwater breeding populations. Euryhaline marine species which usually breed at sea with the juveniles showing varying degrees of dependence on southern African estuaries. Further divided into: IIa. Juveniles dependent on estuaries as nursery areas. IIb. Juveniles occur mainly in estuaries but are also found at sea. IIc. Juveniles occur in estuaries but are usually more abundant at sea Marine species which occur in estuaries in small numbers but are not dependent on these systems Euryhaline freshwater species, whose penetration into estuaries is determined by salinity tolerance. Includes some species which may breed in both freshwater and estuarine systems. Catadromous species which use estuaries as transit routes between the marine and freshwater environments. Further divided into: Va. Obligate catadromous species which require a freshwater phase in their development Vb. Facultative catadromous species which do not require a freshwater phase in their development Page 33

59 Table 2.4: A list of all species recorded in Verlorenvlei by DWAF 2003 (a) by Harrison et al (b), Sinclair et al (c), Robertson 1980 (d) and Poggenpoel 1996 (e). The species are classified into five major categories of estuarine-dependence as suggested by Whitfield 1994, Table 3.1. Introduced species indicated by an asterisk* Family name Species name Common name Dependence Category Recorded by Anabantidae Sandelia capensis Cape kurper IV d Centrarchidae Micropterus dolomieu Smallmouth bass IV c Micropterus salmoides Largemouth bass IV c Cichlidae Oreochromis mossambicus Mozambique tilapia IV a,b,c Tilapia sparrmanii Banded tilapia IV b Clupeidae Gilchristella aestuaria Estuarine round herring Ia a,b,c Cyprinidae Cyprinus carpio Carp IV a,b,c Pseudobarbus burgi Berg River redfin IV d Tinca tinca Tench IV c Galaxiidae Galaxias zebratus Cape galaxias IV a,d Gobiidae Psammogobius knysnaensis Knysna sandgoby Ib expected Mugilidae Liza richardsonii Harder IIc a,b,c,e Mugil cephalus Flathead mullet IIa a,b,c,e Myxus capensis Freshwater mullet Vb expected Sparidae Lithognathus lithognathus White steenbras IIa b,e Rhabdosargus globiceps White stumpnose IIc e Six (38 %) of the estuarine fish and three (19 %), of the freshwater fish recorded in Verlorenvlei, are South African or southwestern Cape endemics (Smith and Heemstra 1986, Skelton 1993). In all, the fish assemblage of Verlorenvlei with its high proportion of endemics and low diversity is typical of estuarine lakes on the west and southern coasts of South Africa comprising freshwater species or estuarine species tolerant of low salinities (Allanson 1989). Compared with the Orange / Gariep (381 ha), Olifants (713 ha), Berg (798 ha) and Rietvlei / Diep (515 ha) systems, Verlorenvlei (1 000 ha) is the largest and represents about 30 % of the available habitat to estuarine fish on the west coast (Lamberth & Turpie 2003). In terms of fishery yield (including nursery function) Verlorenvlei contributes approximately R ha -1 or R 3,03 million to the value of the inshore fisheries annually. This represents 15 % of the total value of the seine and gillnet fishery or 30 % of the estuarine contribution to the value of the inshore marine fisheries on the west coast (Lamberth & Turpie 2003). In 2002 a total of fish representing 5 species from 4 families were recorded using seine and gillnets (DWAF 2003). Liza richardsonii (89 %) and Gilchristella aestuaria (10 %) dominated numerically, providing 99 % of the total catch. In terms of mass, Oreochromis mossambicus (64 %) dominated followed by Liza richardsonii (18 %), Cyprinus carpio (10 %), Mugil cephalus (6 %) and Gilchristella aestuaria (2 %). The distribution of the species caught during the spring 2002 survey was largely a reflection of the estuarine-dependence category to which they belong. Page 34

60 Gilchristella aestuaria, which breeds only in estuaries (also freshwater populations) is largely confined to the river-estuarine interface (salinity 0-10 ppt) of most estuaries. In Verlorenvlei it was fairly evenly distributed and occurred from the mouth to Redelinghuys 25 km upstream. However, there were higher densities in the lower and upper reaches of the vlei. Mugil cephalus, a facultative catadromous species, were confined to the middle and upper reaches of Verlorenvlei but, according to locals, substantial catches are often had at Redelinghuys 25 km upstream. Liza richardsonii is equally at home in the marine and estuarine environment. The bulk of estuarine populations are usually distributed in the lower and middle reaches of estuarine systems (20-35 ppt) but there is often a second peak in abundance on the upstream side of the 0-10 ppt zone. A few individuals may venture far into freshwater where they may become isolated and survive for several years. In Verlorenvlei high fish densities occured in the mouth region and head of the vlei and medium densities in the middle reaches. Oreochromis mossambicus is a freshwater species tolerant of a wide range of conditions. It survives in salinities of ppt. and has been recorded in temperatures of up to 42 ºC (Whitfield 1998). It is also opportunistic in taking advantage of degraded habitats from which other fish have been excluded. The optimum temperature range for O.mossambicus is ºC whereas its tolerance of lower temperatures is positively correlated with brackish water (Whitfield 1998). Adult O. mossambicus were caught throughout the middle and upper reaches of Verlorenvlei. With the exception of a few adults the bulk of the L. richardsonii catch comprised juveniles of mm in length recruiting into the system. A bimodal size frequency distribution suggests that there had been at least two spawning events in the marine environment within the four months prior to sampling. In turn, the low proportion of adult L. richardsonii suggests that there had been a mass exodus from the system that probably occurred with the onset of winter rains and the first breaching of the estuary mouth. Similar to L. richardsonii, the low numbers of M. cephalus suggest that most of the adults left with the first winter rains. This behaviour is characteristic of this species throughout the west and south coast as evidenced by adults appearing in marine samples from April-May onwards. Juvenile recruitment may have been occurring at the time of sampling and there may have been a few juvenile M. cephalus mixed with the L. richardsonii as the young of these and other mullet species are notoriously difficult to tell apart. Most of the G. aestuaria caught in 2002 were young of the year and probably were spawned the previous summer. This species can spawn within its first year but individuals examined suggested that this had yet to occur. Gilchristella aestuaria spends its entire lifecycle in estuaries but is equally at home in most freshwater environments provided the ph is not too low. Adults respond to high winter flows by swimming upstream whereas spawning usually occurs at the head of estuaries to prevent eggs and young from being swept out to sea. Page 35

61 The majority of O. mossambicus caught were large territorial males defending nests. Only two juveniles were caught both nearer to the mouth. With the exception of the juveniles all those caught had numerous open lesions (up to 36) over their bodies. Superficial examination revealed males to have more lesions than females. The most likely cause is that territorial males frequently fight leaving bite-marks that are easily infected with one or more parasites that exist in the water column. The females lesions are probably incidental resulting through the actions of overzealous males. The ability of fish to recruit into an estuary varies between species and can only really be gauged by their relative abundance or presence / absence within a particular system. Mullet species such as L. richardsonii and M. cephalus as well as L. lithognathus are known to recruit through wave overwash into temporarily open / closed systems. In addition, mullet species also recruit by swimming from standing wave to standing wave in systems where there is a strong outflow. Indeed recruitment, into isolated coastal lakes and estuaries that seldom open, only occurs during floods or years of higher flow. In all, the high abundance and presence of M. cephalus and L. richardsonii as opposed to the absence of L. lithognathus in Verlorenvlei may be at least partially explained by their being much more adept at recruiting into the system. Timing is also important: to permit fish recruitment an estuary has to be open during the appropriate period. Recruitment also depends on spawning behaviour and the estuarine dependence category to which a fish belongs. By example, Liza richardsonii is a partially estuarine dependent species which spawns throughout the year with peaks in the summer months. Juveniles are equally at home in estuaries and the marine environment and can remain in the surf-zone until such time as an estuary opens with a chance of recruitment. L. lithognathus on the other hand is entirely dependent on estuaries for its first year of life and has a relative short spawning season. Its recruitment window is thus very short and if an open estuary is not found within that period the larvae or juveniles will die. The recruitment window is probably 2 of 3 months, August-October of each year depending on when spawning took place and the proximity of the estuary encountered to the spawning ground. In Verlorenvlei, water abstraction has resulted in the mouth staying open for shorter periods and closing earlier than it did historically. The recruitment opportunities for L. lithognathus,therefore has been greatly reduced. Birds Verlorenvlei is regarded as one of the ten most important wetlands for wading birds in the south-western Cape, being a particularly important feeding area for the Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus and supporting a number of threatened bird species. (Figure 2.21) In 1976, 934 and waders were recorded respectively during two surveys in the lower reaches of Verlorenvlei (Sinclair et al 1986). Of these numbers, 95% were migrants. In a later survey (1983) of the whole Verlorenvlei, waders were reported, of which were migrants and 727 residents. This same survey yielded a total of birds of 60 species in the environs of Verlorenvlei (Sinclair et al 1986). The vlei also provides feeding, nesting and roosting sites for 200 species of birds in Page 36

62 the surrounding area. It is an important moulting area for Egyptian geese (Alopochen aegyptiaccus) and other waterfowl (Sinclair et al 1986). Figure 2.21: Birds at Verlorenvlei Waterbirds seen at Verlorenvlei include herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills and flamingos. The presence of Glossy Ibises and African Spoonbills is important, since these species are uncommon in the south-western Cape. Greater Flamingos appear at Verlorenvlei when other vleis, such as Rocher Pan (35km south) and Wadrifsoutpan (13km north) dry up. Greater Flamingos are listed in the South African Red Data Book as Near-threatened (Barnes (ed.) 2000). Other Red Data Book species include the Little Bittern and the Caspian Tern. The area is possibly also an important moulting ground and summer refuge for ducks, with 600 Cape Shoveller and Yellow-billed Duck being observed in May In addition, Verlorenvlei is a type locality for several species of birds, including the White-backed Duck (Thalassomis leuconotus) (Sinclair et al 1986). Up to 150 Great White Pelicans were counted by the FitzPatrick Institute in 1976, representing 26% of the total south-western Cape population (Ref. 8). On 23 March 1982, 212 pelicans were counted. The Great White Pelican is rated as rare in South Africa, and therefore in need of special protection (Sinclair et al 1986). Page 37

63 Mammals Little information exists on mammal populations at Verlorenvlei (Sinclair et al 1986). Archaeological and historical evidence suggest that larger mammals were present in abundance in the past, whereas they are non-existent today. A survey by Stuart (1981) indicates the presence of the 12 carnivore species (see Table 3.3) and 11 other mammal species in the vicinity. Table 2.5: A list of carnivorous species recorded in Verlorenvlei Species Name Otocyon megalotis Vulpes chama Chanis mesomelae Ictonyx striatus Genetta genetta Suricata suricatta Gynictis penicillata Herpestes pulverlentus Atilax paludinosus Panthera pardus Felis lybica Felis caracal Common Name bat-eared fox Cape fox black-backed jackal striped polecat small-spotted genet suricate (meerkat) yellow mongoose Cape grey mongoose water mongoose Leopard wild cat Caracal Verlorenvlei Health Status To assist in the development of an EMP for Verlorenvlei (and to help prioritize the interventions required to maintain or improve the health of the Verlorenvlei) a provisional health assessment was conducted on the system following the Estuarine RDM methodology developed for determining the Ecological Water Requirements of an estuary (DWAF 2004). Table 3.4 present a summary of the provisional health status if the system (see appendix B for more detail on the process). Verlorenvlei is currently in a moderately to largely modified state, i.e. Category C/D. The degradation of the system s health is largely attributed to: Significant reduction in the freshwater inflow (ground- and surface water) to the system; A decrease in open mouth conditions (i.e. frequency and duration); Increase in the nutrient and sediment load to the system; Increased coverage by reeds and sedges; and Changes in the species composition and abundance of fish in the system. Page 38

64 Table 2.6: Provisional Present Ecological Health Status for the Verlorenvlei Estuary HABITAT ASSESSMENT COMPONENT WEIGHT SCORE WEIGHT SCORE Hydrology Hydrodynamics & mouth condition Water quality Physical habitat alteration HABITAT SCORE 58 BIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT Microalgae Macrophytes Invertebrates Fish Birds BIOLOGICAL SCORE 58 ESTUARINE HEALTH SCORE 58 PROVISIONAL PES C/D As the Verlorenvlei is a Ramsar site it should be in a much better condition, but it is highly unlikely that the flow reduction to the system can be alleviated easily and as this is the major driver for change in the system it was felt that the Best Attainable State is a moderately modified system (i.e. Category C+). THE PROVISIONAL RECOMMENDED ECOLOGICAL CATEGORY FOR THE VERLORENVLEI, BASED ON THE PRESENT HEALTH STATE, ESTUARINE IMPORTANCE AND CONSERVATION IMPORTANCE IS C+. It is very important that this provisional health rating of Verlorenvlei be confirmed by an Intermediate or Comprehensive level Estuarine Reserve (RDM) study to determine its Estuarine Recommended Ecological Category with a confidence that would allow for decisive management actions. A high confidence Reserve determination would also allow for stricter licensing and more decisive action form the relevant authorities regarding the necessary intervention required to increase the health of the system. Page 39

65 3. Chapter 4: Ecosystem Services Prepared by Jane Turpie & John de Wet Page 40

66 3.1 Introduction In recent years the important role that the natural environment plays in providing valuable goods and services to society has become more fully appreciated. Techniques have been developed to estimate the economic value of these environmental goods and services so that economic and environmental factors can be integrated into both policy making and the management of the resources. Estuaries are recognised as being among the most productive ecosystems on earth. In their study, Costanza et al.(1997) estimated the average annual global value in $US per hectare for a range of ecosystems by ascribing values to 17 types of ecosystem services and functions. They attributed the highest value per hectare of the ecosystems they measured to estuaries at $US22 832/ha per annum, and the next highest value to swamps and flood plains at $US19 580/ha per annum (amounts stated in 1997 terms). Nutrient cycling was the ecosystem service provided by estuaries that was highly valued in the study. In South Africa, in the last five years research has taken place into the economic value of estuaries (see, for example, Cooper et al.2003; Lamberth & Turpie 2003; Turpie et al.2003; Turpie & Hosking 2005; Turpie & Clark 2007; Anchor Environmental Consultants 2008). These studies have identified estuaries as important systems that contribute to the local and national economy through various types of value directly contributing to the subsistence of communities and providing the opportunity for recreational activities; indirectly contributing through the ecological services they provide and having existence values. This chapter provides some background on the concepts of ecosystem services and Total Economic Value, describes the ecosystem services of the Verlorenvlei estuary and provides preliminary estimates of their value, based on available information and a site visit to the estuary and informal discussions with farmers, local community members who were fishing, tourists on the beach and at the Elands Bay hotel and tourists and staff at the Ventersklip resort. Finally, some observations are made regarding the potential implications of management of the estuary mouth on the value of the estuary. 3.2 Ecosystem Services Ecosystems are the natural capital that contribute to economic production and human welfare while ecosystem services are the benefits that people receive from ecosystems (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). There are different ways of describing and classifying ecosystem services. Barbier (1994) classified the benefits from ecosystems as goods, services and attributes as follows: Goods are harvested resources, such as fish. Services are processes that contribute to economic production or save costs, such as water purification. Attributes relate to the structure and organisation of biodiversity, such as beauty, rarity or diversity, and generate less tangible values such as Page 41

67 spiritual, educational, cultural and recreational value. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) classified the ecosystem benefits slightly differently by identifying provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services as follows: Provisioning services such as food and water; Regulating services such as climate, flood and disease regulation and water purification; Cultural services such as aesthetic, spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and Supporting services, such as nutrient cycling and soil formation that maintain the conditions for life on Earth. There is good alignment between the above classifications i.e. goods / provisioning; services / regulation and attributes / cultural classifications are fairly similar. The supporting services identified by the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment (2005) underlie the other services and accordingly will be affected by the values of the other characteristics. The types of ecosystem goods, services and attributes associated with temperate South African estuaries are provided in Table 3.1. Table 3.1: Ecosystem goods, services and attributes based on definitions by Costanza et al. (1997) that are likely to be provided by temperate South African estuaries (Turpie 2007) Goods Services Attributes Ecosystem Goods, Services & Attributes Description Food, medicines Production of bait, fish and food plants; medicinal plants High Raw materials and grazing Production of craftwork materials, construction materials and fodder Gas regulation Carbon sequestration, oxygen and ozone production, Low Waste treatment Refugia and nursery areas Export of materials and nutrients Genetic resources Structure composition and Breaking down of waste, detoxifying pollution; dilution and transport of pollutants Critical habitat for migratory fish and birds, important habitats for animals and plants, including critical breeding habitat, nurseries for marine fish Export of nutrients and sediments to marine ecosystems Medicine, products for materials science, genes for resistance to plant pathogens and crop pests, ornamental species Species diversity and habitats providing opportunities for recreational and cultural activities Importance in estuaries Medium Medium High High Low High 3.3 Total Economic Value The concept of Total Economic Value provides a framework for environmental valuation. This concept involves identifying the following components of economic value of environmental assets: Direct use values which arise from direct human utilisation of the resource, such as harvesting or consumption of the resource for subsistence, commercial or non-commercial purposes. Direct use values can further be broken down: consumptive uses such as harvesting, and Page 42

68 non-consumptive uses such as recreation. Indirect use values. These are associated with the ecological functions of the environmental resources i.e. the regulatory services identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) summarised above. These services derive their values from supporting or protecting economic activities that have directly measurable values (Barbier et al. 1996). These indirect use values are often difficult to quantify. Non-use values. Environmental resources have non-use values, being those benefits that do not arise from contact between the consumer and the environmental asset, and are: option value, being the potential future-use benefit existence value, or the wellbeing that comes from the knowledge that an environmental resource exists, without the intention, necessarily, of using it, and bequest value, or the willingness to retain the asset for the benefit of future generations. The Total Economic Value is the sum of the above values. In performing this calculation, care needs to be taken that there is no double counting, i.e. a single benefit must not be included in more than one type of use. In common with determining the economic value of ecosystems, it is difficult to provide a precise estimate of the economic value, and the preferred approach is to provide a range of values based on a best estimate of the likely values. Indeed, Turpie & Clark (2007) acknowledge that the objective of their study was to produce a rough estimate of the value of each of South Africa s temperate estuaries. In this study, all values are expressed in 2008 Rands. 3.4 Subsistence Fisheries The land surrounding Verlorenvlei is mostly privately-owned by farmers, while there is open access to the estuary in the lower reaches around Elands Bay. There are farm workers who may access the estuary for fishing and a fairly large community in Elands Bay, who fish in both the sea and estuary. It is understood that there are about five illegal gill net operations in the estuary. While there is fishing in the system by communities, the local livelihoods are not dependent on this fishing although they are supported by it. In the absence of a detailed survey to establish the level and frequency of catches for subsistence fishing, a broad estimate is that this fishing contributes between R5 000 and R per month, suggesting an annual value for fishing of between R and R This magnitude of estimate is supported by Turpie & Clark (2007) who estimated the subsistence value of the Verlorenvlei Estuary at less than R Raw Materials Substantial areas of the estuary contain reeds and sedges. Most of the surrounding land is privately owned and discussions with farmers suggest that there is limited harvesting of these resources for use as building materials. The community houses in Page 43

69 Elands Bay are constructed from modern materials such as bricks and mortar and there does also not seem to be harvesting of materials from the estuary for use in these houses. The harvesting of raw materials form the estuary is thus likely to be immaterial and accordingly no value is attributed to these materials. 3.6 Grazing It is worth noting that while harvesting materials is not important, the edges of the estuary are used for livestock grazing with cattle, goats and sheep using the grazing on the private farms all along the lake. Farmers confirmed that the grazing provided is important, especially during the dry summer months and autumn until the winter rains begin. There is limited use during the wet winter months and spring as the flooded margin makes access by livestock difficult. It was confirmed in discussions with farmers that there is a premium for land that adjoins the lake due to the grazing provided as the availability of this grazing increases the stock carrying capacity. However, it is difficult to quantify the benefit of the estuary to farm values and increased livestock holdings without detailed surveys and further analysis. Catchment activities affect productive farmland and activities. For example, farmers were concerned about the activities in the catchment, especially Working for Wetlands activities. Apparently many Port Jacksons (Acacia Cyclops) trees were killed in the rivers, but not removed. When the big winter rains came in 2008, these were washed out and blocked the river s course, causing it to alter its course with erosion occurring. 3.7 Carbon Sequestration Carbon sequestration is measured in terms of the net storage or loss of carbon that takes place as a result of a long-term increase or decrease in biomass. The contribution made by estuaries to carbon sequestration is unknown but is unlikely to be significant in temperate estuaries. 3.8 Waste Treatment The value of this function is usually estimated by the cost savings of treating water before it is released. While waste treatment is possibly an important ecological service provided by the Verlorenvlei system, the quantity of pollutants released into the system is unknown and it is not possible to estimate a value for this function. 3.9 Nursery Value Estuaries are productive systems due to high nutritional inputs and providing sheltered habitat and nursery grounds for many organisms, which can either be utilised in the estuary itself or later in their lives, in the coastal area. Factors that make estuaries suitable nursery habitats are abundance of food, higher Page 44

70 temperature, turbid waters and lower salinities, while possibly also providing protection from predators. Nursery value is the value contributed by estuaries to marine fishery production as a result of providing nursery areas for commercial or recreationally valuable species. This value was estimated on a regional level by Lamberth & Turpie (2003). This study considered the estuaries role as nursery areas for species of fish exploited by recreational and commercial harvesting in the inshore marine environment. The study identified 80 fish species taken in fisheries that make use of estuaries, and categorised the species according to their degree of association with the estuary. According to available information and by extrapolating from various relationships, total catches were estimated for the fish species. In this manner, a value for estuaries was obtained on a regional basis and was disaggregated to individual systems on the basis of the area of the estuary. The values were estimated based on the contribution to Gross Domestic Product, including value added by subsidiary industries in the case of commercial fisheries. The value estimates were provided for five sections of the Sout African coast, including the west coast, but did not consider the Verlorenvlei because of its loss of estuarine functioning. In its natural state, when the estuary would have had more connection with the sea, the Verlorenvlei would probably have had a significant nursery function. For permanently open west coast estuaries, the average nursery value was estimated to be R3 030/ha on average. Verlorenvlei is some 1000 ha, suggesting a potential value of some R3 million per annum although there is only a narrow estuarine channel near the mouth and most of the lake itself seldom receives inputs of seawater (Sinclair et al. 1986). Because of its very limited connectivity with the sea at present, Turpie & Clark (2007) estimated the nursery value to be less than R0.1 million per year. However, it is possible that the system could be more valuable than this at present, and that it might be managed to better advantage in this regard. This is an area that deserves more thorough research Export of Materials and Nutrients The export of sediments and nutrients to the marine zone is an important function of some river systems, particularly along the east coast of South Africa. While there is some knowledge of the biophysical aspects of this function (Branch et al. 1985), no research has been carried out on its economic implications Recreation and tourism value The amenity value of an estuary is reflected in the premium paid for property with access to, or views of, estuaries, as well as the expenditure incurred by visitors to the estuary. Much of the estuary margin is undeveloped, with the farm houses and other buildings such as sheds on private farms occasionally present in proximity to thelake. As discussed above, there is a premium for farm land located along the lake, but this is for its grazing capacity rather than the views or other attributes, although several farms long the lake are now offering tourist facilities such as guest Page 45

71 houses. There are only a few residential houses in Elands Bay situated along the lake most of the development in the town has been along the coast with sea access and view apparently preferred to a view. The property value of an environmental asset is generally estimated using the Hedonic Pricing approach a form of multiple regression or through expert estate agent estimates. Property value has been estimated for some South African estuaries (see, for example, Cooper et al and Turpie et al. 2003). Building on a study undertaken by Masiwime (2006), Turpie & Clark (2008) concluded that it was difficult to predict property value on the basis of easily obtainable estuary characteristics. The approach in their study was therefore to collate property value data and interview estate agents throughout the temperate region, thereby providing a rapid assessment of the property value of the estuary systems. Based on the limited development in Elands Bay along the estuary and the private farmland that surrounds the middle to upper reaches of the estuary, Turpie & Clark (2008) estimated the estuary premium on capital property value attributed to the Verlorenvlei to be in the order of R2 million. This estimate might be somewhat conservative, but the true value is unlikely to be very high. Tourism value is reflected in visitor s expenditure on travel and accommodation. This expenditure by tourists is a partial measure of the Willingness to Pay for the estuary as a recreational amenity, although not all the value is directly attributable to the estuary. For example, Turpie et al. (2003) estimated that the Knysna estuary contributed 60% of the enjoyment of visitors, and it was estimated that the Kromme and Seekoei estuaries accounted for 17% and 10% of visitor enjoyment (Turpie 2006). Elands Bay is about 220 km from Cape Town and is a fairly popular as a tourist destination. The town has a hotel with 16 rooms, a caravan park and several guest houses, while many of the houses are holiday residences and not occupied permanently. Tourism is seasonal with most tourists visiting during the peak December and Easter holiday periods and over weekends, with it being generally quiet for the rest of the year. Fishing and surfing are amongst the main attractions, while the Namaqualand flowers and rock art also attract tourists. Verlorenvlei is also considered an important attraction for Elands Bay and marketed as such, with its bird watching a particularly important feature. Recreational fishing takes place in the estuary, especially near the mouth of the estuary and on private farm land the fact that much of the estuary is surrounded by private land limits access to the estuary and probably reduces the extent of recreational fishing. There is no power boating allowed on the estuary although kayaking does take place. Apart from the tourist accommodation in Elands Bay itself, some farms along the estuary offer guest house accommodation. Ventersklip is a tourism development on the estuary 4km from Elands Bay. This resort has restored historic cottages which are hired out as self-catering accommodation and also has camp sites there are four cottages with some 14 beds, six luxury camp sites with their own private facilities and two general camp sites. There is also a restaurant. Guest activities include birdwatching, kayaking, fishing, rock art, flowers and walking, with a bird hide on the estuary having been developed by the Working for Wetlands programme. The Page 46

72 surrounding farm is a CapeNature Contract Reserve, as are a few other farms along the estuary. The property values are capital values and are incompatible with values expressed per unit time such as tourism values. Turpie & Clark (2008) converted the total property premium to an annual turnover in the real estate sector based on estimated turnover rates of property for the commission accruing to the property sector this was done by applying the findings of previous studies. Turpie & Clark (2008) estimated the annual recreational value of the Verlorenvlei, incorporating both the contribution to the property sector attributed to the system (as discussed above) and the tourism value, to be between R1 and R5 million in 2008 Rands. Based on the findings of this study, this estimate seems a reasonable approximation of the recreational value of Verlorenvlei Existence Value The existence value of an estuary is the wellbeing that comes from the knowledge that an environmental resource exists, with or without the intention of using the estuary. People are willing to pay to maintain this feeling of well being and the Willingness to Pay (WTP) is used to reflect the existence value in monetary terms. It has been estimated that the total existence value held by South Africans for all South African estuaries is in the order of R90 million per annum. Turpie & Clark (2007) disaggregate this value to the respective estuaries by ascertaining how the characteristics of an estuary influenced people s ratings of their value. Based on the way in which Verlorenvlei was scored, the existence value of the Verlorenvlei system was estimated to be in the order of R50 to R per annum. This is probably an extremely conservative estimate, given the Ramsar status of the system, and the fact that the scoring concentrated on the mouth region only Summary The estimated values for the ecosystem goods, services and attributes valued above are summarized in Table 4.2. The table further briefly highlights the importance of the benefit and the key stakeholders who have an interest therein. Based on these rough estimates, it is estimated that the Verlorenvlei generates an annual value of between R1 and 8 million for subsistence, recreational uses as well as for the nursery function, although the value may be closer to the lower figure due to the overexploitation of fish resources. In addition, there are a number of potential ecosystem services that the estuary may provide but for which there is no information these services have been excluded from the valuation, as have all the non-use values. Page 47

73 Table 3.2: Summary of estimated annual value for Verlorenvlei Estuary in 2008 money terms (all amounts in R 000) Subsistence value use Range of Estimates Low High Importance Stakeholders Contributes to livelihoods Farm workers and local community Recreational value Increases value of property Provides and enhances recreational opportunities Nursery value Contributes to inshore marine stocks Residents Tourists Local tourism sector Local businesses Commercial fishing sector Recreational fishers Subsistence fishers 3.14 Implications for Estuary Management An evaluation of the Ecosystem goods and services highlight the following aspects for estuary management: Farming and tourism are the main activities around the estuary and are not in conflict with one another, farming is more important than tourism at present. Grazing is an important benefit currently provided and the management plan needs to consider this in terms of establishing stocking rates that are sustainable and not detrimental to the estuary Catchment management potentially affects the productivity of farms along the estuary Low impact tourism activities should be encouraged at this estuary. With tourism starting to increase on the estuary, as evidenced by the farmers starting to go into tourism, it will be important to ensure that the types of uses are appropriate or zoned to minimize impacts. However, overregulation at this estuary should be avoided to retain its rural character. Page 48

74 4. Chapter 5: Activities threatening Ecosystem Services in and around Verlorenvlei Page 49

75 The following section highlights the most important impacts on the Verlorenvlei based on the findings a field visit conducted in November 2008, available literature and stakeholder consultations. The activities and developments that pose a threat to Verlorenvlei are discussed in the following four categories: Environmental hazards; and Human activities and development (e.g. land-use and infrastructure development, exploitation of living resources, water quality and quantity issues). 4.1 Environmental Hazards Environmental hazards posing a potential threat to the goods and services provided by estuaries include the following: Floods; and Climate change. Although some of these do occur naturally, it is important that these be considered in the management of estuarine systems, as they can be exacerbated by human activities. Potential threats associated with each of the above are listed in Table 4.1. Table 4.1: Environmental hazards posing a potential threat to services provided by estuaries Floods ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD Climate change RELATED THREAT In general floods would not pose a serious threat to the road bridge crossing the lower vlei as the system has a large surface area which can attenuate floods significantly. Sea-level rise can change beach sediment dynamics and intrusion of saline water in the long term. A reduction in ground water and river-inflow (including changes in magnitude and the frequency of floods) is predicted for the West coast in some climate models. Changes in the distribution of living marine resource species, both in the sea and in the estuary) are very likely in the long term. This in turn could have serious consequences for the livelihoods in the area. Increase in storm events at sea are predicted under certain climate change models, but as the Verlorenvlei mouth is perched the most likely effect will be an increase in the frequency and volume of overwash which will assist in reestablishing the link with the marine environment. Page 50

76 4.2 Human Activities and Development Human activities and developments posing a potential threat to estuaries and the valuable services provided by these systems can be divided into the following three broad categories (Van Niekerk & Taljaard 2008): Land use and infrastructure development; Water quantity and quality (water supply/demand and waste); and The exploitation of living resources. Activities and developments associated with each of these categories are discussed below. Land-use and Infrastructure Development Agriculture: Crop Production. A major threat from crop production in the catchment is linked to the increased input of nutrients and organic loading of the estuary (i.e. eutrophication). The presence of cyanobacterial bloom during the November 2008 field visits is a very good indication of the nutrient enrichment of the system mainly attributed to agriculture (Figure 4.1). Similarly Harding (in 2000) also found evidence of eutrophication during the Sandveld Reserve study. The microalgae assemblage mainly comprised cyanobacterial genera. The Sandveld Reserve study concluded that the algal assemblage was indicative of an elevation in trophic status that has been in place for some time, and probably reflects eutrophication-associated damage to the lower levels of the foodweb. Figure 4.1: Cyanobacterial bloom observed in Verlorenvlei during the November 2008 field visit Page 51

77 The source of these nutrients probably is two-fold: from the catchment as a result of inappropriate agricultural practices introducing high concentrations of nutrients to the system. This together with reduced river inflow results in the accumulation of in situ generated organic material resulting in the introduction of more nutrients to the system through remineralisation. There would have been remineralization of organic material under natural conditions as well, but the greater fluvial inflows and more frequent breachings in the past would have allowed for more dilution and lower concentrations of nutrients. It is very important that this link between water levels, breaching, increased vegetation growth and enrichment be better understood and quantified. Cyanobacteria (blue green algae) are known to form blooms more easily in slightly saline water and can become concentrated and produce toxins under the certain conditions. This poses a risk to wildlife and lifestock in the area and the triggers should be well understood and quantified. Avian botulism is a paralytic, often fatal, disease of birds that results when they ingest toxin produced by the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. Outbreaks of avian botulism occur on water bodies with little or no outflow. Botulism occurs most often in mid-to-late summer, on shallow lakes, during periods of hot dry weather. Incidents are frequently associated with a lack of oxygen in the water that often occurs after Cyanobacteria have bloomed. Botulism outbreaks can be started by the presence of bird or other animal carcasses. Disease, starvation, severe weather, and collisions with power lines or other structures kill animals that then serve as ideal material for the development of botulism. The botulism spore, or resting stage of the bacteria, is commonly found in wetland soils, and can survive for years, withstanding freezing and drying. Many birds inadvertently eat these spores while feeding and the spores live in their digestive systems with no effect on the birds' health. Botulism toxin is transferred to birds by the ingestion of maggots and possibly other invertebrates that feed on the decaying carcasses. The botulism toxin does not harm the invertebrates but it accumulates in their tissues to levels where one maggot can kill a duck. Large numbers of maggots on a bird carcass can be attractive to live birds that then become poisoned by ingesting toxic maggots. The cycle repeats itself, and each time the cycle often involves more and more birds. Invasive alien vegetation. Alien invasive plant species occur at a number of locations in and around the vlei and in the catchment. It is very important that these invasive plants be removed where possible (Figure 4.2). Infestations of invasive alien plant species have a number of consequences for biodiversity: They use significantly more water than indigenous vegetation; They represent a modification/loss of natural habitat; and Alien vegetation burns at much higher temperatures than indigenous vegetation because of the much higher biomass per unit area than indigenous vegetation posing a greater danger to wildlife, humans and soil structure during veld fires. Page 52

78 It is therefore recommended that the Working for Water/Wetlands programme assists in the removal of these plants as soon as possible. Figure 4.2: Alien vegetation in the Verlorenvlei floodplain Road infrastructure (e.g. roads, crossings and culverts). Protection of the road running next to the estuary and lake by placing rocks and rubble and construction of retaining walls has had caused some loss of riparian habitat in a few places along the system. The effect is very localized and this is not considered to be serious. Nevertheless, this practice should be discouraged to prevent progressive degradation or the death of a thousand cuts effect along the banks of the system. The removal of the old causeway at the mouth and has improved the health of the vlei through the reestablishment of connectivity with the marine environment (Figure 4.3). Although this site still poses a natural obstruction to flow it is not a significant barrier to the recruitment of fish or even some invertebrate species. During the November 2008 field visit juvenile Steenbras were observed in the vlei for the first time since the 1970s. Figure 4.3: Location of the old causeways at the mouth and near the railway bridge (November 2008) Page 53

79 Unfortunately the infilling at the railway crossing still poses an obstruction to flow and often bisects the system at lower flows, cutting the lower reaches from the main lake area. This leads to stagnant conditions in the estuary and increases frequency and duration of hypersalinity conditions in the hot, dry summer months. In addition, the road bridge and the causeway at Grootdrift prevent the free movement of existing channels and/or the formation of new channels, which in turn restricts local circulation features and regulate flow through a set positions in these structures (Figure 4.4). This is evident by the expansion of vegetation just upstream from the road bridge in the lower vlei and in the vicinity of the Grootdrift causeway since the 1940s. The Grootdrift causeway has very few culverts in it (2 large box culverts, 3 small pipe culverts) that stabilizes the channels through the wetland at predetermined positions and do not allow for dynamic changes in the wetland in the upper wetland area. Figure 4.4: Road bridge crossing to Elands Bay showing increased reed growth above the bridge The practice of taking short cuts through the estuary poses a risk to the health of the estuary as it leads to the destruction of riparian vegetation (saltmarshes) and the disturbance of birds feeding and resting in the lower reaches. The effort made by the local and district authorities to control this should be commended and supported (Figure 4.5). Page 54

80 Figure 4.5: Closure of informal road crossing near the Sishen-Saldanha railway bridge Instream infrastructure (e.g. jetties and weirs). A number of old jetties are situated in the middle vlei (Figure 4.6). The jetties mainly seem to function as abstraction platforms for pumping freshwater from the vlei. Most of the jetties are on stilts and do not pose a significant threat to the heath of the system as they do not interfere with circulation. It needs to be established if the all jetties are registered and still in use (and all the owners are registered water users). The construction of additional private jetties should be discouraged to protect the riparian area and to limit the number of access points to the system. Figure 4.6: Stone jetty used for direct abstraction of water from the Verlorenvlei Page 55

81 Riparian infrastructure (e.g. fences, bird hides, low-lying developments). There are a number of places where fences traverse the wetland, cutting a swath through the vegetation and bisecting parts of the upper vlei land (Figure 4.7). The related loss of habitat is of some concern, especially if this practice should continue unhindered. Some fences stretch well into the water body and may pose some risk to boating. In addition it should be noted that in some case fences can restrict access to public land which is a concern under the Integrated Coastal Management act (2208). Property rights need to be assess here to ensure the protection and acknowledgement of riparian rights, but also ensure access to public land where appropriate.. Figure 4.7: Fences cutting through wetland vegetation in the upper Verlorenvlei The construction of a bird hide is a very good idea as it allows access to the Ramsar site and enhances its tourism value (Figure 4.8). Care just needs to be taken with the removal of fringe vegetation which exposes the shore to wave action (generated by wind). This in turn can lead to erosion and the need for subsequent protection. Bank protection may require that hard structures will be erected along the predominantly muddy northern bank, thus representing a different habitat which in turn will attract different species and alter the community composition of the system. Figure 4.8: Bird hide in upper Verlorenvlei Page 56

82 Some low-lying developments are present near the mouth of Verlorenvlei (Figure 5.9). Although the present developments seem to be above the breaching level of the mouth it should be noted that these developments are within the estuarine space (i.e. below the 5 m MSL contour) and run the risk of inundation during very high flood events. It is strongly recommended that in the approval and rezoning of future properties no development below the 5 m MSL contour be allowed. Figure 4.9: Low-lying developments neat the mouth of Verlorenvlei Recreational activities. Motor boats with engines in excess of five horsepower are not permitted on the lake. The deeper areas are suitable for sailing. However, the varying depth of the vlei throughout the year and the fringing and submerged vegetation can place considerable limitations on sailing in terms of access to open water. Swimming, although not prohibited, due to the thick layer of silt and its unhygienic water conditions, is discouraged. Recreational line fishing is allowed under normal permit conditions, but under most conditions this will only land alien fresh water fish. The vlei and its environs lend themselves to ideal bird-watching conditions. The area is suitable for hiking trails and possible routes for such trails are along the waters edge as well as to places of historical interest and archaeological sites. They may also follow a route through the different vegetation types. Picnicking can become popular if the necessary sites were provided. Artificial breaching. There is some anecdotal evidence of artificial breaching of the system. This is in conflict with historical observations that show that culverts in the old causeway near the mouth were often blocked to prevent freshwater flow to the mouth region, and thereby preventing breaching of the system. This allowed the system to stay full for longer periods, which in turn prolonged the periods for abstraction of water for irrigation.inundation of grazing land is at present muted as the motivation for artificial breaching. This needs to be confirmed. Although artificial breaching of an estuary can have great impact on the health of a system (e.g. altered timing, premature closure, sedimentation, recruitment failure, loss of nursery function) it can also sometimes be the saving grace of an system that is fresh water deprived, e.g. Great Brak. It is therefore of the utmost importance that an Ecological Flow requirement study be conducted on this system as it would Page 57

83 evaluate the potential impact of artificial breaching of the ecological health of the system and provides a context for future management actions. Mining. The Department of Mining (Previously the Department of Mineral and Energy affairs) is considering issuing a mining licence to Bongani Minerals. This would allow the company to develop a tungsten open-cast mine in the Moutonshoekvalley. An environmental-impact assessment (EIA) is currently under way to deter- mine the viability of the operation. Withers Environmental Consulting is undertaking the EIA on behalf of Bongani Minerals, which successfully lodged a mining rights application for the tungsten deposit in April. The project, dubbed the Riviera Tungsten Project, has an estimated reserve of 10,86- million tons with an average grade of between 0,28% and 0,31% of tungsten oxide, and is believed to be the sixth-largest tungsten deposit in the world. The project will require a capital expenditure of R1,3-billion to develop. It is expected that the project would be an open cast mine, initially 20 ha, to mine the higher-grade ore and then 50 ha in extent to mine the more disseminated orebody, which would be mined to a depth of 200 m. At full production, the mine would produce t of tungsten oxide a year and would have a life-of-mine of 18 years. Some of the potential environmental impacts include be the pollution of ground water, reduced flows from Antonies River into the wetland, siltation of the Verlorenvlei and loss of income and jobs. The opposition to the development of the opencast mine exuded by residents and landowners in the Valley has resulted in the establishment of the Verlorenvleivallei Coalition. Opposition to the proposed mine stems from the fact that the valley relies heavily on underground water sources for irrigation purposes, which could potentially be heavily impacted by opencast mining activities. The Verlorenvlei Valley is a pristine and fertile valley, hosting a number of profitable export-orientated fruit farms located downstream from the proposed mining site. The farms in the area are reliant upon groundwater for irrigation purposes as the area receives minimal rain. Apart from issues of water quality, residents and workers in the valley are also concerned regarding job losses. The environmental viability of such a project depends on the significance of the environmental impacts such a mine could have on the valley, including the social environment, and the degree to which effective mitigation can be administered, and this can only be determined once the EIA has been completed. Solid Waste Disposal (building rubble at the Island). In the past building rubble was left near the mouth of the estuary at the Island (as can be seen by the vegetation growing on the rubble heap) (Figure 4.10). Although habitat loss associated with this is relatively small in comparison with the total surface area of the system, this practice should be strongly discouraged and in future action be taken against those responsible. Page 58

84 It is strongly recommended that the rubble be removed and the site be restored. This will also prevent the very human trend of dumping rubble and waste where others have done so already. Figure 4.10: Building rubble on Verlorenvlei floodplain Water Quantity and Quality Water abstraction (e.g. direct abstraction, sumps and groundwater). The Sandveld Reserve study only looked at the reduction in total inflow to Verlorenvlei on a rapid level. The study did not provide any conclusive quantification of the total reduction in inflow (surface and groundwater), but did indicate that seasonal flows may be reduced by as much as 90%. The total reduction in MAR to the estuary is estimated to be between 50% and 80% depending (Appendix B, Verlorenvlei health assessment). Such a severe reduction in inflow to the system, would seriously limit the opportunity for breaching and re-establishing connectivity with the marine environment. The Sandveld Reserve study also did not account for all the types of abstraction and losses from the catchment and the vlei itself (direct abstraction, sumps, groundwater, alien vegatation) and it is thus very hard to draw any conclusion on the extent to which the flows have been modified from natural conditions. However the net result of the loss in inflow is that the connection with the sea has been significantly reduced. Both the frequency and duration of open mouth conditions are affected by the abstraction activities. It is of the utmost importance that a high confidence Intermediate or Comprehensive Ecological Water Requirement (Reserve study) be done on Verlorenvlei. The estimates of the flow reductions should include assessments of reduction in groundwater and surface water, as well as direct losses from the vlei. Notwithstanding the fact that the vlei was phosphorus limited during the period assessed, the phytoplankton assemblage was representative of an eutrophic lake. Page 59

85 Wastewater dumping (e.g. sewage and vessels). There is some unconfirmed reports that wastewater (from the honeysucker) is being dumped in a sump next to the vlei. If this is the case, it is highly likely that this nutrient rich water would find its way into Verlorenvlei as the sump is situated in a very porous area. An additional concern would be the microbial contamination associated with wastewater and the risk it poses to human health. It was also of concern that while Elands Bay is being marketed as a world class surfing destination, no official ablution facilities have been erected at the beach for the surfing community. During peak surfing periods microbial contamination of the lower estuary (near the Island ) could pose a serious risk. The lack of ablution facilities and related unintended consequences reduces the tourism value of the area and should be addresses as soon as possible. Similarly, the lack of washing facilities for boats (commercial and recreational) at the public launch site (near the rock lobster factories) has also led to an informal arrangement where some boat owners are washing their skiboats in the vlei. While this in itself is not a major concern the associated wastewater from the boats (e.g. fish blood and bait) can cause microbial contamination and further enrichment of the system. (There was also an unconfirmed report of possible effluent contamination form an adjacent a pig farm) Living Resources Harvesting and burning of reeds and sedges. There has been a significant expansion in the area covered by reeds and sedges in Verlorenvlei since the 1940s (Figure 4.11). Two areas are of particular concern: The upper vlei near Grootdrift; and the lower area near the road bridge crossing. The main worry is the loss of open water area, especially the shallow open water areas which serve as fish nursery and bird feeding grounds. Figure 4.11: Increased reed growth in upper Verlorenvlei Page 60

86 The expansion of the reeds especially of Typha is very noticeable in the upper reaches of the system and is mainly contributed to increase nutrient loading and sedimentation from the catchment. The causeway over the vlei to Grootdrift also obstructs flow which in turn hinders circulation and allows for colonization of the open water areas by vegetation (reeds). The expansion of reeds and sedges in the lower estuary is probably related to reduced water levels (driven by the reduction in inflow) which allows for the expansion of vegetation into previously deep water areas. The area near the road bridge shows a definite increase in vegetation which is probably related to the obstruction to flow caused by the bridge. Not only does increased read growth cause a loss of open water habitat but it also increases nutrient enrichment through the decay of organic matter and subsequent remineralization. There are a number of places where riparian vegetation was actively removed for ease of access, for example, at the jetties, near the bird hide and in the vicinity of sumps (Figure 4.12). Again the concern here is the exposure of the vlei shores to wind generated waves and subsequent erosion and deposition in the vlei. Burning of the reeds and sedges surround the systems also seems to be a common practice. This is evident at a number of places especially in the upper reaches. The concern here is the loss of habitat, interference in the nutrient cycling processes and exposure of riparian area to wave action and subsequent bank erosion. Figure 4.12: Evidence of destruction of reeds beds by burning Gillnetting and introduction of aliens species. (Information supplied by Dr SJ Lamberth, Marine and Coastal Managed, DEAT) Until within the last years the fish assemblage of Verlorenvlei had remained relatively unchanged since its evolution into an estuarine lake around 1600 BP (Sinclair 1986, Poggenpoel 1996). Since the early 1900s, the construction of various weirs, causeways, road and railway bridges in the lower reaches as well as water abstraction are likely to have excluded some estuarine dependent marine species from the system. In turn, the introduction of alien freshwater fish species has Page 61

87 probably had a major impact on the distribution and abundance of indigenous species throughout Verlorenvlei and its catchment. White steenbras (Lithognathus lithognathus) was the dominant species found in archeological digs in the Elands Bay area and was also the species most targeted by fishers until the late 1960s. White stumpnose (Rhabdosargus globiceps) was also caught but in much lower numbers. Both of these species have not been recorded in recent catches from the system, although White steenbras were observed in the estuary in November The main reasons for their absence are likely to be water abstraction reducing the recruitment window and the various obstructions constructed in recent years that present a physical barrier to recruiting fish. These barriers would have also caused a breakdown in the salinity gradient and a reduction in the cues that recruiting fish follow from the marine environment. Also possible is that aggressive introduced species such as the Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) may have helped exclude them from the system. In addition, White Steenbras and White stumpnose have been overexploited in the marine and estuarine environment and their absence from Verlorenvlei may also be a reflection of their stock s collapsed state. The gillnet fishery for flathead mullet in Verlorenvlei have also contributed to the decline of the White Steenbras and White stumpnose (Figure 4.13). At present it is estimated that there are up to five gillnet operators in the vlei (CapeNature and MCM unpublished data). The current legal status of the fishery has not been resolved. MCM has an operational policy under the Marine Living Resources Act that precludes gillnetting in estuaries as it compromises their nursery function (Olifants Estuary has the last remaining legal gillnet fishery in country). MCM regards Verlorenvlei as an estuarine system, which means that the current gillnet fishery is not sanctioned. CapeNature, on the other hand, has until recently regarded the system as an inland water and has being issuing the licences under provincial ordinances to local landowners. No new licenses have been issued this year. During the November 2008 field visit MCM removed a gillnet near the Bird hide in the upper vlei. Fourteen fish from four different species (Carp (Cyprinus carpio): 1, common harder: 2; Mozambique tilapia:7; and flathead mullet: 4) were removed from the 35 m net. The mesh size was between mm resulting in the fish ranging between 130 to 260 mm long in length being caught. Six freshwater fish species have been introduced into Verlorenvlei and its catchment since the late 1930s. The last introduction was the Mozambique tilapia in 1967 which together with Carp are the most abundant freshwater species in the system. These two species also appear to dominate as far up as Redelinghuys. Small and largemouth mouth bass (Micropterus spp.), were also introduced but do not appear to have become as established in the vlei as they have in the river. Banded tilapia (Tilapia sparrmanii) exist throughout the catchment and vlei in low numbers and may be outcompeted by the Mozambique tilapia. Tench (Tinca tinca) seem to have been the least successful introduction in Verlorenvlei as they have been elsewhere in the southwestern Cape. Page 62

88 Figure 4.13: Gillnetting in upper vlei The Berg River redfin (Pseudobarbus burgi )(likely to be a separate species of redfin), Cape kurper (Sandelia capensis) and Cape galaxias (Galaxias zebratus) were once abundant throughout the catchment including the upper reaches of Verlorenvlei. Predation by bass and, to a lesser extent, the other introduced fish is likely to be the cause of their almost complete disappearance from the vlei. In addition, Cape kurper, tolerant of high salinities, would have been resident the entire year round but has since been excluded by the larger Mozambique tilapia which has similar habitat requirements for nesting sites. In all, two estuarine dependent species and three freshwater species endemic to the southern and western Cape have been lost from Verlorenvlei. The return of the marine species could be facilitated by increasing outflow and extending the recruitment window available to fish in the spring and early summer and removal of the physical barriers to their recruitment whereas the survival of the freshwater species relies on habitat preservation in the isolated areas in which they still occur. Agriculture: Livestock. There is a significant amount of grazing of the saltmarsh and wetland vegetation in the system (Figure 5.14). Numerous cattle and goats were observed grazing in the middle and upper reaches of the vlei. Grazing inhibits the growth of fringing vegetation, reduces productivity, leads to habitat destruction and ultimately can lead to erosion and sedimentation in the system. Unconfirmed anecdotal information indicates that the inundation of grazing land during high water levels can increase the pressure on local authorities to breach the mouth to allow access to pasture lands. It is strongly recommended that this practice be re-evaluated and that agreement be reached with landowners on the areas in which grazing can be allowed and the carrying capacity of the vegetation in question. Page 63

89 Figure 4.14: Cattle grazing on saltmarsh vegetation in the middle Verlorenvlei Page 64

90 5. Chapter 6: Environmental legislation relevant to Verlorenvlei Page 65

91 5.1 Background This chapter aims to provide a brief summary of the most important policy and legal measures relevant to Verlorenvlei. The measures are discussed under the following categories: International Conventions; National Legislation; Provisional ordinances; and Local by-laws. The information presented below is by no means comprehensive, but is intended to provide background to the development of the EMP. Note that the conventions, acts, ordinances and by-laws relevant to Verlorenvlei create both opportunities for local and regional growth, but at the same time place constraints on the permissible types of development and activities in the vlei and its environs. 5.2 International Conventions Relevant to Verlorenvlei A number of international conventions are pertinent to Verlorenvlei of which the most important are: Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (1971) (Ramsar Convention); Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972) (World Heritage Convention); Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (1979) (Bonn Convention); and United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (1992). Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (1971) (Ramsar Convention) The broad aims of this Convention ( are to stem the loss and to promote wise use of all wetlands. The Convention includes estuaries in its definition of wetlands. The Convention defines wetlands as areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres (which includes estuaries). South Africa presently has 17 sites designated as Ramsar sites ( with a total surface area of ha, this includes estuaries such as the Orange, Verlorenvlei, Sout (De Hoop Vlei), Heuningnes (De Mond), St Lucia and Kosi Bay. A Wetland Conservation Bill has been proposed which will further assist South Africa in meeting the aims of the Convention. Page 66

92 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972) (World Heritage Convention) The Convention ( states that each state party to that Convention recognizes the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage situated in its territory (which may include estuaries). South Africa acceded to the Convention in 1997, given legal status through the World Heritage Conservation Act (Act 49 of 1999). The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (1999) (renamed to the isimangiliso Wetland Park) and the Cape Floristic Region (2004) for example, were given international recognition as World Heritage Sites. Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (1979) (Bonn Convention) The Convention ( was a response to the need for nations to cooperate in the conservation of animals that migrate across their borders. These include terrestrial mammals, reptiles, marine species and birds. Special attention is paid to endangered species. South Africa is a major partner in this Convention as it is the terminus for many of the migratory species, both the Palaearctic (birds) and the Antarctic species (whales and birds). South Africa acceded to the Convention in December United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) The Convention on Biological Diversity ( has three objectives: the conservation of biological diversity; the sustainable use of biological resources; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. As a party to the Convention, South Africa is required to develop national strategies, plans or programmes, or adapt existing ones, to address the provisions of the Convention, and to integrate the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies. South Africa's response to this requirement is contained in the White Paper on the Conservation and sustainable use of South Africa's biological diversity (July 1998), given legal status through the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Protection Act (No. 10 of 2004). 5.3 National Legislation National legislation that is relevant to the development of an EMP for Verlorenvlei include: National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998); Marine Living Resources Act (Act 18 of 1998); National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management (Act 24 of 2008); National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998); Page 67

93 Water Services Act (No. 108 of 1997); National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004); National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999); Local Government: Municipal Systems Act (Act 32 of 2000); Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (No. 43 of 1983); and National Health Act (No. 61 of 2004). A short summary on each of these are provided below. Details on key aspects of national legislation that regulate activities in and around Verlorenvlei are listed in Appendix A. National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998) (NEMA) DEA is the lead agent for NEMA. NEMA ( provides for co-operative environmental governance through the establishment of national environmental management principles, and procedures for their incorporation into decisions affecting the environment. NEMA emphasizes co-operative governance and assists in ensuring that the environmental right and related rights in the Constitution are protected. NEMA requires the Department of Environmental Affairs to be the lead agent in ensuring the effective custodianship of the environment. In particular the Act provides that sensitive, vulnerable, highly dynamic or stressed ecosystems, such as estuaries require specific attention in management and planning procedures, especially where subjected to significant human resource usage and development. Various of the activities listed in the NEMA Environmental Impact Assessment ( EIA ) Regulations (which came into effect on 3 July 2006) bear on activities within the coastal zone and which require environmental authorisation before they can proceed. The EIA Regulations regulate procedures and criteria for the submission, perusal, consideration and decision of applications for the environmental authorisation of specified activities. These regulations are especially pertinent to estuaries as many estuaries are situated within rapidly expanding development nodes along the South African coast and are under tremendous pressure from human activities. Waste disposal activities are also scheduled activities under these regulations. Marine Living Resources Act (Act 18 of 1998) amended 2000 (MLRA) DEA: Chief Directorate: Marine & Coastal Management is the lead agent for the MLRA. The objectives and principles of the MLRA deal with the utilization, conservation and management of marine living resources (including estuarine resources), the need to protect whole ecosystems, preserve marine biodiversity and minimize marine pollution, as well as to comply with international law and agreements and to restructure the fishing industry ( Page 68

94 Marine living resources includes any aquatic plant or animal, whether piscine or not, and any mollusc, crustacean, coral, sponge, holothurian or other echinoderm, reptile and marine mammals and includes their eggs, larvae and all juvenile stages, but does not include sea birds and seals. Chapter 4 of the MLRA deals with the declaration of Marine Protected Areas and which empowers the Minister (DEA) to declare an area to be a Marine Protected Area where various activities are prohibited. These are stipulated in the Declaration of Areas as Marine Protected Areas (No R.1429, 29 December 2000) promulgated under the Act ( National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act 24 of 2008) DEA: Chief Directorate: Marine & Coastal Management is the lead agent for the Coastal Management Act. In relation to the establishment of resource objectives, the Coastal Management Act ( aims at establishing a system of integrated coastal and estuarine management in South Africa, including norms, standards and policies, in order to promote the conservation of the coastal environment, and the ecologically sustainable development of the coastal zone, to define rights and duties in relation to coastal areas, to determine responsible organs of state in relation to coastal areas and to give effect to South Africa s international obligations in relation to coastal matters and to provide for related matters. Chapter 8 of the Coastal Management Bill contains exclusive provisions dealing with Marine and Coastal Pollution Control, specifically addressing Discharge of Effluent into coastal waters (administered in collaboration with DWA) and Incineration and Dumping at sea (e.g. dredge spoil dumping). National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) (NWA) DWA is the lead agent for the National Water Act. One the important objectives of the NWA is to ensure protection of the aquatic ecosystems of such South Africa s water resources ( To be able to do this effectively, the NWA requires policies to be in place that provide guidance in developing resource quality objectives, i.e. specifying aspects such as freshwater inflow, water quality, habitat integrity, biotic composition and functioning requirements. Estuaries are classified as a water resource under NWA. Chapter 3, Part 3 of the NWA requires Classification and Resource Quality Objectives to be determined for all water resources, including estuaries. The Water Resource Protection Policy (under this Act) provides detailed guidelines and procedures for the classification (i.e. predefined health status) and the setting of Resource Quality Objectives for the protection of aquatic ecosystems (including objectives for water quantity, water quality, habitat integrity and biotic integrity). Section 21 of the NWA classifies a number of activities related to water supply/demand and waste disposal (from land-based activities) as water uses that requires authorisation (licensing) by DWA. Page 69

95 The Act also identifies certain land use (e.g. activities resulting in stream-flow reduction such as afforestation and cultivation of crops) and infrastructural developments (e.g. altering the bed, banks, course or characteristics of a watercourse) as water uses that require authorisation by DWA. Water Services Act (No. 108 of 1997) DWA is the lead agent for the National Water Act. The main aspects of the Water Services Act, relevant to infrastructure development, are to provide for ( Right of access to basic water supply and basic sanitation necessary to secure sufficient water and an environment not harmful to human health or well-being Management and control of water services, in general, including water supply and sanitation Preparation and adoption of Water Services Development Plans (refer to Section 13 of Act) by water services authorities that should form part of IDP s. National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004) DEA is the lead agent for the Biodiversity Act. The objective of the Biodiversity Act is to provide for the conservation of biological diversity, regulate the sustainable use of biological resources and to ensure a fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources ( The Act states that the state is the custodian of South Africa s biological diversity and is committed to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the constitutional rights of its citizens. It also recognizes that South Africa is party to, amongst others, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention) and the Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn Convention). National Heritage Resources Act (Act 25 of 1999)(NHRA) South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) is the lead agent for the NHRA. The NHRA ( introduces an integrated and interactive system for the management of national heritage resources (which include landscapes and natural features of cultural significance). One of the important elements of the Act is that it provides the opportunity for communities to participate in the identification, conservation and management of cultural resources. The Act also requires that in areas where there has not yet been a systematic survey to identify conservation-worthy places, a permit is required to alter or demolish any structure older than 60 years. This will apply until a survey has been done and identified heritage resources are formally protected. Anyone who intends to undertake a development must notify the heritage resources authority SAHRA and if there is reason to believe that heritage resources Page 70

96 will be affected, an impact assessment report must be compiled at the developer s cost. Thus developers will be able to proceed without uncertainty about whether work will have to be stopped if a heritage resource is discovered. Local Government: Municipal Systems Act (Act 32 of 2000) Department of Provincial and Local Government is the lead agent for the Municipal Systems Act. The Municipal Systems Act (Chapter 5) deals with Integrated Development Planning (IDPs) (municipalities are obliged to prepare and to update IDPs regularly) ( An IDP is intended to encompass and harmonise planning over a range of sectors such as water, transport, land use and environmental management. It requires each local authority to adopt a single, inclusive plan for the development of the municipality which: Links, integrates and coordinates plans and take into account proposals for the development of the municipality; Aligns the resources and capacity of the municipality with the implementation of the plan; Forms the policy framework and general basis on which annual budgets must be based; and Is compatible with national and provincial development plans and planning requirements that are binding on the municipality in terms of legislation. Chapter 5 of the Municipal Systems Act deals with integrated development planning (IDP) that sets the social and economic objectives for a particular area. The Municipal Planning and Performance Management Regulations (Government Notice R.796, 24 August 2001) ( promulgated in terms of this Act describe the content requirements of IDPs. The regulations, for example state that the Spatial Development Framework, reflected in the municipality s IDP, must contain a strategic assessment of the environmental impact of the spatial development framework. Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (No. 43 of 1983) (CARA) Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is the lead agent for CARA. The objectives of CARA is to provide for the conservation of the natural agricultural resources of South Africa by: the maintenance of the production potential of land; the combating and prevention of erosion and weakening or destruction of the water sources (including estuaries); and the protection of the vegetation and the combating of weeds and invader plants. National Health Act (No. 61 of 2004) (NHA) While the Department of Health is the lead agent, the implementation of this act is delegated to the local municipal and provincial authorities. Page 71

97 The responsibility for rendering environmental health services under the NHA has been delegated to metropolitan and district councils as from 1 July Every metropolitan and district municipality must ensure that appropriate municipal health services are effectively and equitably provided in their respective areas. These include (insofar as it influences human health, except in ports): water quality monitoring; waste management; and environmental pollution control. Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002 Department of Minerals and Energy is the lead agent for this act. The Act contains the statutory requirements regarding the enforcing of environmental protection and management of mining impacts, including sand and coastal mining. The Act requires Environmental Management Programmes (EMP) that identify a mine s impact on the environment and provide a clear programme on how these will be managed, based on an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). To ensure compliance with environmental issues, the act requires consultation with each department charged with administration of any law that relates to any matter affecting the environment before an EMP may be approved. 5.4 Provincial Ordinances Provincial ordinances that are relevant in the development of an EMP for Verlorenvlei include: Land Use Planning Ordinance, 1985 (Ordinance 15 of 1985, as amended in 2004); Western Cape Housing Development Act (No. 6 of 1999); Western Cape Planning and Development Act (No. 7 of 1999); Cape Nature Conservation Board Act (No. 15 of 1998); Cape Nature and Conservation Ordinance (No. 19 of 1974, as amended in 1999); and Nature and Environmental Conservation Ordinance (No. 19 of 1974). A short summary on each of these are provided below. Land Use Planning Ordinance, 1985 (Ordinance 15 of 1985, as amended in 2004) (LUPO) The Provincial Department Environment Affairs & Development Planning (DEADP) is the lead agent for LUPO. LUPO ( provides for decision-making regarding land use and planning issues, including applications for rezoning, subdivision and the amendment of relevant structure and/or spatial plans promulgated Page 72

98 in terms of LUPO. Most planning applications received by the local authorities and/or the provincial planning and environmental department are in terms of this Ordinance and include applications for departure, rezoning or subdivision, and appeals against planning decisions taken by a municipality (such appeals are regulated by section 44 of LUPO). Western Cape Housing Development Act (No. 6 of 1999) The Western Cape Housing Development Act determines general principles applicable to housing in the province of the Western Cape and defines the role of the provincial and local spheres of government in housing development ( It also needs to ensure that housing development is integrated with all other facets of development in a holistic way. Western Cape Planning and Development Act (No. 7 of 1999) DEADP is the lead agent for this ordinance. The Western Cape Planning and Development Act lays down guidelines for the future spatial development in the Western Cape province in such a way as will most effectively promote the order of the area as well as the general welfare of the community concerned ( Cape Nature Conservation Board Act (No. 15 of 1998) and Cape Nature and Conservation Ordinance (No. 19 of 1974, as amended in 1999) CapeNature is the lead agent for this ordinance. The Cape Nature Conservation Board Act ( allowed for the establishment of the Cape Nature Conservation Board (or CapeNature as that body is more commonly known). The objectives of the Board are: to promote and ensure nature conservation and related matters in the Province; to render services and provide facilities for research and training in connection with nature conservation and related matters in the Province; and in pursuing the objectives set out above, to generate income, within the framework of any applicable policy determined by the responsible Minister or the Provincial Cabinet. Nature and Environmental Conservation Ordinance (No. 19 of 1974) CapeNature is the lead agent for this ordinance. Although this Ordinance applies principally to the terrestrial environment, by analogy it can be extended to estuaries because it refers to inland waters (which in turn include tidal rivers or estuaries). Page 73

99 6. Chapter 7: Existing Management Strategies or Plans Page 74

100 6.1 Overview The following section provides a brief overview of the existing management strategies or plans that incorporate Verlorenvlei Estuary in their planning domain. Existing management strategies or plans which incorporate Verlorenvlei comprise: Cederberg Municipality Integrated Development Plan Cederberg Municipality Spatial Development Framework (SDF) Cederberg Municipality Water Development Service Plan; Catchment Management Strategies produced by DWAF; South African Wetlands Conservation programme (Ramsar management plan) C.A.P.E. Estuaries Conservation Plan (Turpie and Clark 2008); Working for Wetlands CapeNature and CAPE Stewardship programme; Biodiversity and Potatoes; and Rooibos Biodiversity Initiative. The following section provides some detail on existing management strategies or plans that relate to Verlorenvlei. 6.2 Cederberg Municipality Integrated Development Plan Background Cederberg Municipality is one of the several local municipalities that form part of the West Coast District Municipality. It includes 6 communities: Clanwilliam, Citrusdal, Lamberts Bay, Graafwater, Elandsbaai and Wupperthal. The Integrated Developmental Plan for Cederberg Municipality constitutes the primary planning strategies of the Municipality. The vision of the Cederberg IDP is to improve service delivery for all the residents of the area. Verlorenvlei has a fairly small and undiversified economy, contributing roughly 10% of the district total. Agriculture is the most important Sector in terms of employment and the economy. The main crops are potato and sweet potatoes with oats, barley and wheat grown on a smaller scale (CSIR, 1986). It is estimated that 57 % of the employment are from agricultural activities in the whole Cederberg municipality. The secondary sector is processing of agricultural products, fishing and manufacturing though they are significantly smaller relative to agriculture. Approximately 2187 people were employed in agriculture and fishing sectors at Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay in The fishing industry forms the main economic base, but it is showing a declining trend as a consequence of the quota limitations on fishing for the local community. One of the reasons for the poor economy is that land ownership is concentrated among a few individuals and there are few opportunities to diversify the economy except for tourism based on the natural beauty of the area. The level of income is very low and is estimated to be between R per head per month. This is not surprising given the fact that the largest sectoral contribution to the local economy is agriculture. The black component of the population has the Page 75

101 lowest income while the white segment has the highest income. This is to be expected as the black African population group mainly fins employment in the agricultural sector. More males than females are employed in agriculture and manufacturing industries. The rate of unemployment is very high in the Cederberg Municipality area with only 39% of the whole population employed (Figure 6.1). The rate of unemployment is correlated with race, gender and standard of education. The highest rate of unemployment is in the black African group, this has been linked to the high numbers of seasonal migrant workers that stay in the area after the harvesting season and large numbers of people from other provinces such as the Eastern Cape who perceive the Western Cape as the best area for employment (IDP). About 78 % of the white population have access to full time jobs while only 39% of the coloured population and 53% black population have full access to full time jobs. This is due to the fact that high percentage of black and coloured population groups are seasonal workers on farms (Cederberg 2007). Agriculture and Fishing 855 Community/social/Personal Construction Financial Manufacturing Private households others Figure 6.1: Employment by industry at Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay in 2001 (Census 2001) In terms of education the Cederberg community has a poor profile; there are very few skilled individuals in this area, which has a negative influence on the overall economy (Figure 6.2). Only 5 % of the community has had tertiary education (i.e. post-matric), while only 18 % of the people have finished grade 12. Most of the people have had some secondary education (33%), 23 % with some primary education, 12 % completed their primary school and 9% has had no education at all (Census 2001, Cederberg IDP ) 5% 9% 18% 33% 12% 23% No schooloing Some primary Complete primary Some secondary Grade 12 Higher Figure 6.2: Education levels from Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay in 2001 (Census 2001) Page 76

102 The population at Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay based on Census 2001 was estimated to be approximately in Approximately 75 % of the population is from the Coloured group while the African group constitutes 8%, whites 17% and Indians only 0.1 %. Population statistics of the area and age and gender distributions are provided in Tables 7.1 and 7.2, respectively (Census 2001). The population in this area is expected to have increase significantly by 2020, about 18% increase from the 2001 population. The highest population growth is expected in the black African group due to large influx of this group into the area (IDP), followed by the Coloured group. Table 6.1: Population statistics for Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay (combined) in 1996 and 2001 Persons African Coloured Indian White Total population Table 6.2: Age group and gender statistics for Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay (combined) in 1996 and 2001 Age Female Male Female Male Over Total Legal context The IDP is compiled in terms of Chapter 5 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act (Act no 32 of 2000). According to the Act, an IDP is the single, inclusive and strategic plan of a municipality, which coordinates and guides development within the municipal area, which should include the following core components (Section 26): the municipal council s vision for the long term development of the municipality with special emphasis on the municipality s most critical development and internal transformation needs; an assessment of the existing level of development in the municipality, which must include an identification of communities which do not have access to basic municipal services; the council s development priorities and objectives for its elected term, including its local economic development aims and its internal Page 77

103 transformation needs; the council s development strategies which must be aligned with any national or provincial sectoral plans and planning requirements binding on the municipality in terms of legislation; and a spatial development framework which must include the provision of basic guidelines for a land use. The Cederberg Municipality s IDP is the overarching planning tool of the municipality. Its purpose is to inform the sector-specific plans of the municipality by providing high level planning objectives, which guides operational and sectoral planning (Figure 6.3). In essences it represent the Macro Strategy for the municipal area. The Provincial Growth and Development Strategy, as well as the Western Cape Spatial Development Framework inform these options. Figure 6.3. Examples of the sectorial plans captured in the Cedeberg District municipality s IDP Infrastructure investment in the Cederber Municipality primarily focuses on the Olifants River development corridor (Citrusdal and Clanwilliam) and the tourism corridor on the West Coast (Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay). Further development of smaller settlements are not encouraged. The focus is on increasing the mobility of the residents of these areas through capacity building initiatives. Service backlogs still exist in the municipal area, especially in the rural parts, e.g. eradication of the bucket toilet system. Central to Cederberg Municipality s development challenges is the bulk service provision of water and sanitation. From an institutional perspective the major challenge of the municipality is the recruitment and retention of skilled personnel. A significant percentage of critical positions are not being filled, which reduces service quality. The IDP also identifies transport as one of the key issues that need improvement in the area. Because the local economy exports agricultural products there is greater need for efficient transport routes. Other important issues are water and sanitation. The Cederberg municipality recognizes that water scarcity is a major Page 78