August Newsletter

Dear Friends

Welcome to new members Richard Fuggle, James & Ros Irlam, Sandy Munro, Suzanne & Daniel Neal, Pandora Reinecke and Debra West. We do hope you will find an interest and ‘place’ within the Friends. This newsletter should reach you via email or as a hard copy. We are happy to operate both systems, but strongly encourage you to use the Friends website. Thanks to Trevor Hughes, we now have a simple, interactive website that is growing. You are welcome to add your comments to articles or news items on the web. Many of the topics in this newsletter are covered in more detail on the website and include photographs submitted by various members, e.g. see photographs of the Liesbeek during recent rains. Visit the website at


The rapid succession of cold fronts passing over Cape Town during the last week of July provided some anxious moments for residents living along the Liesbeek. Did you see the photographs in the Tatler? While the rainfall for July was average (average 72mm CT International Airport), it was the short period between rainfall events that tipped the Liesbeek over the edge. Rapid runoff from hardened surfaces such as roads, buildings and pathways contributed to channelling this rainwater and there was insufficient time for the discharge to flow down the river before the next deluge. Reports on damage to property appears to be limited to a few incidents, however these events were a timely warning that similar conditions could to be repeated in future. It is our contention that development of the Liesbeek catchment is at a premium. More hardened land surfaces in the Liesbeek catchment will put downstream properties and owners at risk of flooding. Moreover events of the last week in July and early August shouldn’t be dismissed as a show of climate change, but rather the result of poor planning and management of land that drains water into the Liesbeek. ON THE WEB: See some dramatic photographs.


Sam Werner, a Global Environmental Management (GEM) Ambassador student from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, recently spent time in Cape Town to develop a ‘community-based’ approach to analyzing the Liesbeek. The survey technique is relatively simple, although anyone using the tool will need some training in order to use it effectively. We hope to use the tool from time to time, and also hope that it will be useful to other interest groups in South Africa who might wish to monitor rivers in their local environment.

The results of the analysis are interesting, and in many ways confirm the obvious. The tool is strongly biased towards the quality of habitat in a river. In other words, canalized sections of the Liesbeek score poorly. The map gives a brief picture of how different stretches (lengths of about 500m) differ from each other. It is difficult to reproduce this map in our newsletter because the final score for each section surveyed is multi-colour. The map is a taste of what it looks like. ON THE WEB: see the colour map of the results of the survey.


The darkest sections represent stretches that were not assessed since these areas adjoin private property and are not accessible. The best sections of the river are obviously found in the upper parts of the river. The lower section, from Mowbray Durban Road to the Valkenburg Lake also has a low score (meaning ‘good’). This is largely because the water was relatively clean following the winter rains and because this section is not canalized.

We would like to introduce this survey technique to interested members during one of our future walks. It has given us new eyes and ways to observe the river. We’ll announce such a walk once the weather gets a little warmer.


The Friends of the Liesbeek were pleased with the turn out to celebrate Environment Week. We took a gentle Sunday 3 June afternoon walk and talk along the Liesbeek Trail from Newlands to Rondebosch. The lovely weather encouraged some to enjoy a picnic tea in Roslyn Road Park whilst others decided to stroll back. It was great to see people really using and enjoying their urban environment. Our thanks go to Brooks & Michaels (property consultants, agents & administrators) who produced and distributed a beautiful pamphlet in which they advertised the event. Member Martin Reitz is also thanked for his wonderful photographs which were used. He took these on the March Water Week Walk. ON THE WEB: see photographs taken on the walk.


In spite of welcome winter rains the River Team have been kept busy with general Liesbeek maintenance of litter and alien removal, sweeping the Trail of winter debris, clearing gutters and unblocking drains causing flooded roads as well as planting out sour fig, polygala virgata, aloe arborescens and arctotis auriculata. They are delighted to have extra work on a Monday thanks to Tuffy Brands who now not only supply their tough bags but also sponsor Mondays’ work. This affords us the opportunity to work more frequently in the Rosebank / Mowbray area. SA Breweries have generously increased their contribution and pay for work on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Westerford School have kindly sponsored the River Team to attend the ‘You and Your Money’ course. It has been extremely informative and worthwhile and enjoyable. BECO Institute for Sustainable Business has kindly helped us again by paying for rucksacks for the River Team. They are so useful as each worker carries his own personal belongings which are kept dry, clean and safe. Packing up is also much quicker now. ON THE WEB: a picture of guys with their course certificates.


Joan Parker reports that they have also been busy with general maintenance as well as repair to the paths and picnic sites damaged in the recent floods at the wonderful riverine park created by the Bishops Court Villagers. ERA Steer Constantiaberg has continued to sponsor Mathew Moetsi work on the Bishopscourt Village reach.


Great fun was had on the 26 & 27 June when the Soul Foundation sponsored by Toyota employed the River Team to clean Liesbeek Lake in Observatory with the voluntary and enthusiastic help of fifty Observatory Primary School scholars and three teachers. The highlight was having the use of two boats which afforded an easier and more effective way to clean amongst the reeds and the area beyond the scope of a pool net’s reach. The Friends are greatly indebted to the Soul Foundation and Toyota SA and Mayor Helen Zille whose generosity and encouragement afforded us a new and welcome opportunity to clean up a messy area not usually within our scope. ‘Soul’ stands for Save Our Universal Land and has the motto “Give & Gain’.. ON THE WEB: see a similar article and photographs of the action.


If it were not for partnerships and the generous sponsorship of friends and businesses, property owners, residents and users of the Liesbeek would be the poorer. We sincerely thank you one and all.


Sponsorship does make a difference so anyone wanting to make a donation towards the Liesbeek Maintenance Project is asked to please contact Liz Wheeler on 021-671-4553 or Wendy Vosloo or Alta Swanepoel at WESSA Western Cape on 021-701-1397.


Hacking & Weeding: First Wednesday of the month. Meet at 9am at Protea, Winchester Avenue, Bishopscourt. If you would like to help on any other day please let us know.

Guided Walks are by arrangement. Please contact Liz Wheeler on 021-671-4553 if you would like to arrange to walk along Liesbeek either as a school group, a party of friends or as an association.


If you haven’t already done, please take a moment to pay your membership which extends from May 2007 to April 2008.

The banking details are:

Friends of the Liesbeek
Nedbank Pinelands Branch no 122005, a/c no 2220015645

Or post off a cheque addressed to Friends of Liesbeek, PO Box 333, Rondebosch 7701. Kindly supply your reference (INITIAL & SURNAME) details on the deposit slip or reference section on the electronic submission. We will acknowledge receipt of your subs in the post.

Membership subscriptions:

Single R20
Family R30
Corporate R100

Best wishes


Kevin Winter

About Admin (Trev)

I am the Vice-Chairman of The Friends of the Liesbeek
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2 Responses to August Newsletter

  1. Rosemary Paul says:

    I love walking down the Liesbeek River and am anxious to join up the 2 halves. Is this possible? Otherwise it is a very short walk. I would like to come from the Kirstenbosch Cottages through to the end. Is there a map?
    Have not done this walk for a few years and am very impressed with the way the gardens are looking and how the plants have grown. From Rosemary Paul of TCSA

    • francine says:

      Hi Rosemary,
      Thank you for your interest in the Liesbeek. You can walk all the way to Observatory along the Liesbeek. It takes about 3 hours. Parts of the walk are not on the river itself. Drop me an email on and I will send you a map and more info. Regards, Francine

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