Good news is rare; but environmental warriors in Marina da Gama are celebrating the installation of a second rubbish net in their waterways.
Mike Ryder has received funding – R5000 each – from the Marina da Gama Business Association and the Zandvlei Trust for costs of the two canal nets.
On Friday, April 13, Mike Ryder and fellow resident in Marina da Gama, Brad Adamo, pulled on waders and sloshed through the waterways, installing the second net.
They had installed the previous net the week before. This was a victory for the environmental warriors. Mr Ryder lobbied for these nets for a year.
Environmental activists have long been fighting the influx of rubbish which washes down the canalised rivers to Marina da
Gama. What is dumped into the Langevlei, for example, will invariably wash down the canals until it is pushed through the Marina da Gama water system and out to sea if the mouth to the Zandvlei Estuary is open. The marina is the last point it can all flow into.
Brad Adamo said he lives in the area, walks his dogs along the waterways and has young children. He believes that taking action himself is the least he can do to give back to the community. “This isn’t our world, it belongs to our children.
“I want to improve what I leave to my kids. I also want to be a good example to them; if something
is out of kilter – get in there and do what you can to fix it,” he said.
Mike’s desperation to find solutions saw him raise the ire of some who criticised his angry Facebook posts but his persistence has won ground, and has rallied support from other environmental warriors.
Mike shrugs off all labels and praise. All he wants is to prevent what he sees as the inevitable crush of a mass of rubbish which is building up, upstream.
He is thrilled about the nets, but is still pushing for the canals upstream to be cleaned before big rains come.
“My appeals for funding and replacement of the canal nets began nearly a year ago.
“The intention was to reinstall nets that could capture the majority of rubbish that came down the canal under what we know to be steady, high flow, winter conditions,” he said.
Although new, Mike said these nets cannot and will not resist what he terms the tsunami of rubbish that will wash down that canal when the first heavy rains fall.
He gives the following reasons for this.
The rubbish is so widespread that choke points and natural dams will form until one upstream/ choke point fails, and that comes rushing down taking the others, like falling dominoes.
The toast rack litter traps, which have not been repaired/ extended/widened/or modified in any way will be totally overwhelmed again and the rubbish will bypass them and head for the nets.
He said despite numerous notifications to council and other bodies, the invasive weeds water primrose and/or what he believes is Tradescantia is now widespread in the canals, especially Langevlei.
He said that six months ago there was only rubbish to be concerned about.
“Now there is a biomass of literally hundreds of tonnes waiting to be washed down … this will block the toast racks almost immediately and be exceedingly difficult to remove once compressed onto the rails. This problem is largely due to the illogical mouth breaching process that has resulted in the Zandvlei mouth becoming virtually shut and allowing water to back up in the canals far further than normal, encouraging the growth of weed.”
He said he is warning all concerned that if a severe cold front is predicted with heavy rains before the canals are substantially cleared that he will withdraw the nets either partially or totally or risk them breaking.
“I will not be held responsible for any overflow damage/flooding etc. I am not an expert on hydrodynamics by any means, and will act on the side of caution.
“If others wish for the nets to remain in place under such conditions, they are welcome, providing they are happy to take responsibility for possible consequences,” he said.
Environmental activist Kevin Rack, who is on the boards of both the Muizenberg Improvement District board and the Muizenberg Lakeside Residents’ Association and heads up various environmental clean-ups, was present
to lend a hand on Friday April 13.
He called Mike and Brad heroes for the work they do and said all credit goes to them for their passion and campaigning, as well as the personal action they take to create positive change.
“The idea is to bring all the clean-ups and volunteer groups under one platform, hopefully under Zandvlei Trust, so it can be better advertised to the broader community as well become a central point for data collection,” Mr Rack said.
“Once this is done we can organise the mass clean-up using all available crafts, assets and allies. For example we hope to involve Scouts, the Yacht Club, Naval Cadets, Marina da Gama, Marine Estate and Lakeside residents and organisations.”
Mr Rack said that the litter and plastic in the vlei has reached its peak and plateaued and is still way way too much.
There are, he says, areas waist deep that have not been touched. “The plastic that is in the reeds is leaching toxic chemicals into Zandvlei so haste is needed.
“I am sure that we will only be organised once the rains come but thank goodness for Mike, Brad
and their net team and the awesome guys on Park Island,” he said. He is hoping to map the different groups in a public space and then co-ordinate not only small areas but one giant Zandvlei clean-up.
Mr Rack has become involved in the start up of Capricorn clean-up and said the Mfuleni clean-up is starting soon. Mr Rack recently spoke in Athlone in an advisory capacity and there is a group of keen residents there who are on board to learn about caring for the environment.
The Muizenberg clean-ups are sponsored by the MID.
They clean up once a month, the first Saturday of the month at Shark Spotters between 9am and11am. Search for Muizenberg-BeachClean-up on Facebook for details. The west bank picnic area clean-ups are managed and sponsored by the Muizenberg Lakeside Residents’ Association.