Statement by the City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Eddie Andrews
Earlier today, at its last meeting for 2022, the City of Cape Town’s Council adopted the Diep River Estuary Management Plan that was published for public comment and input earlier this year. We will now submit this plan to the Western Cape Minister of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning for approval in terms of Section 9 of the National Estuarine Management Protocol.
This is a significant milestone in addressing pollution in the estuary, and the associated challenges and impact on surrounding communities. As a local government, our primary focus is to sustainably respond to the impact of rapid urbanisation.
We are facing many pressures and the Diep River Estuary Management Plan seeks to respond to the longstanding environmental pressures in Milnerton, Table View and surrounds. I trust that the affected communities will, over time, see and experience the benefits of the Diep River Estuary Management Plan.
The estuary covers an area of approximately 900 hectares and is the point at which the Diep River meets the ocean. The river originates in the Riebeek Kasteel Mountains north-east of Malmesbury, and flows for about 65km south-west towards Cape Town, before entering the sea some 5km north of the Port of Cape Town.
As it flows towards the sea, the Diep River meanders through the Rietvlei and Milnerton Lagoon. The revised Diep River Estuary Management Plan identifies pragmatic and realistic management interventions that will be undertaken against short, medium and long-term time horizons to address the current pressures on the estuary, and within the context of a heavily altered and urbanised environment.
The plan includes new information and recommendations on how the City may manage the estuary more effectively.
The plan was workshopped with a number of external experts and independent scientists in the field of coastal and estuarine science, and key City departments. We also gave the public an opportunity to comment and submit their proposals.
The plan acknowledges the systemic pressures arising from multiple land uses within the wider catchment area of the Diep River and adopts a transversal approach towards addressing these pressures.
The plan lists priorities and actions, among which:
Conservation objectives – which includes reinforcing the separation of nutrient-rich Potsdam discharge from the salt marshes fringing the Rietvlei system.
Water quality objectives – to assess the possible cost and benefit of dredging the lower lagoon to facilitate the release of sediments and nutrient loads and emulate natural scour.
Land use, infrastructure and development objectives – to increase the rate of the upgrading of informal settlements and strictly manage land invasions within the floodplain.
Social objectives – to maintain and ensure the public’s right of access and enjoyment of publically accessible areas within the estuary in accordance with the Table Bay Nature Reserve management plan.
Climate change objectives – to enforce the coastal urban edge or coastal management line and ensure relevant environmental authorisations are obtained for new development, infrastructure, or densification that may be exposed to risk from coastal hazards.
Education and awareness objectives – develop material that explains in simple terms the pressures on the Diep River estuary system, and demonstrates the links between activities in the catchment and the state of the estuary.
A total of 47 high priority actions are indicated in the report and those priority actions are assigned to the responsible City departments.
The Diep River Estuary Management Plan is another example of our absolute commitment to, over time, improve the quality of our inland waterbodies so that in Milnerton in particular, we can get #outofthestink.
Source: City Of Cape Town