The PHA should not be used for inappropriate development

Dr Thokozani Knayerere at the 2017 PHA Declaration and Summit.

It’s vital to protect the aquifer under the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA), a groundwater expert told a summit last week.

Speaking at the 2017 Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) Summit and Declaration, Dr Thokozani Knayerere, a senior UWC lecturer and a environmental hydrogeologist, said the PHA was a catchment for the Cape Flats Aquifer, which had a large capacity but abstraction from it for irrigation was also high.

Dr Knayerere said a UWC research team had looked at how much annual rainfall the PHA received, how much groundwater existed in the aquifer and whether there was enough space in the aquifer to store more water. The team had concluded that the PHA needed to be protected if the integrity of the aquifer was to be maintained.

Patrick Dowling, from the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), said the PHA was an important part of the ecosystem because its seasonal water bodies were the overflow source of food for local and migrant birds that visit False Bay Nature Reserve (FBNR).

The FBNR is a Ramsar site that incorporates Zeekoevlei, Rondevlei, Pelican Park Nature Reserve and Strandfontein Wastewater Works. The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the con-
servation and sustainable use of wetlands.

“The PHA is a close neighbour of the 21st Ramsar site declared in South Africa. It is the fifth most important one in South Africa with over 200 bird species recorded,” said Mr Dowling.

“We oppose the neglect or degradation of wetlands through bad planning decisions.”

The PHA should not be used for inappropriate development, he said, encouraging residents to back the campaign to save the PHA as was done with Princess Vlei.

In 2011 the City of Cape Town gave the go-ahead for land at Princess Vlei to be rezoned for a shopping mall. But the plan was scrapped after push back from the community, environmentalists and organisations.

“We wouldn’t want the PHA to be one of those places in the world that is valued only when it is too late,” he said. See facing page