LMP Report 2010/07

Liesbeek Maintenance Project Report

July 2010

By: James Cooper (Project Manager)

The River Team

All 3 guys continue to work three days a week on the project. On days when rain kept the team off the river they went to Kenilworth Racecourse to do plant propagation, cutting and treating of signage plinths and design of signage ideas. Phindile, the learner from WESSA, has joined the team on a few occasions along the river.

This month has been quite challenging due to Maya and Farha being on study leave. We have also only had one vehicle this month, which has had to be shared among the different Southern Suburb Satellites (Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area (KRCA), Rondebosch Common, Meadowridge Common, the Liesbeek and Two Rivers Urban Park (TRUP).  This has meant that James has had to cover some of their work load, lift staff to other sites and often didn’t have a heavy duty vehicle which made transport of staff, tools and materials difficult.



Walk with WESSA learners

On the first of July James was introduced to the five WESSA learners, who will be undertaking various projects at the Southern Suburb Satellites, and took them for an introductory walk down the Liesbeek. James gave an introduction about the Maintenance Project and the current scope of work on the Liesbeek. Phindile showed interest in the river system and has chosen to do his projects on the Liesbeek

Fig. James with WESSA learners in Rondebosch

Phindile’s Project

Phindile has chosen to do an assessment of the amount of litter entering the Liesbeek from storm water drain outlets to identify the areas of most concern. He will also be looking and comparing seasonal data from the City’s monthly water testing site in Observatory on the Liesbeek. The idea is to construct litter traps around the storm water pipes entering the Liesbeek and to do a weekly audit of the items and amount of litter found in each trap. He will compare this data and determine which areas are of most concern and look at ways of prevention. This will include a detailed map of the storm water systems and land usage in each area.

The LMP team will help with the construction of the litter traps in the last week of July. These traps will be basic structures of supporting poles with mesh netting around each storm water outlet. Some modifications might have to be made after we see the impacts of heavy rains on the structures.

Painting out graffiti

James received an E-mail from John Rodgers, a resident in Rondebosch, who pointed out that there was a large amount of graffiti along the Liesbeek trail between Newlands and Mowbray. He also suggested that the LMP team could trim back the vegetation growing next to the path in this section.

It is great to receive input from residents and we encourage any suggestions from the public. The team has painted out the graffiti in this area and trimmed back the vegetation. Mr Rodgers came down the trail and was pleased to see the team busy with his requests when he passed them.

Fig. Malibongwe Mzinanda paints out graffiti in Rondebosch

Design and preparation of signage

During extremely wet and rainy conditions the team came o KRCA and were tasked with coming up with designs and ideas for signage along the Liesbeek trail. This was a really great exercise and the team have come up with six designs that they feel they will be able to construct using materials from the river and Pine logs that James collected from a Rehabilitation site in Westlake. The team have begun to cut the Pine logs into the desired shapes and have treated them with linseed oil to prevent weathering and cracking.

Fig. LMP team working on signage ideas

Their designs were based on examples taken from an interpreter’s handbook titled SIGNS, TRAILS, AND WAYSIDE EXIBITS. Some of the team’s designs will use litter and bottles in the construction to show how we can use these materials in a sustainable way. Other designs will be simple wooden or cement based structures with various shaped Pine plinths on top for the signs.

A more detailed report will be completed when the construction is complete and the signs have been attached.

Fig. Cut and treated Pine plinths

Fig. Pine logs that still need to be cut and treated

Collection of Bulbs from the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)

Two years ago the SAAO staff dug up a section of their grounds to install some new cabling. Many bulbs were dug up during this process and the conservation staff from KRCA collected them and planted them into pots. These pots have been sitting at the SAAO and in the second week of July the LMP team went to collect these bulbs so that we could plant some of them along the river.

In total of about 600 bulbs were collected. It is difficult to identify which species are present until they flower but we do know that the following are among them:

Morea spp

Sporaxis grandiflora


Gladiolus spp

– 2 Lachenalia spp

Some of these bulbs have already been planted along the Liesbeek, namely at Belmont in Rondebosch and the rehab site behind Newlands Swimming Pool.

General Maintenance

Litter clean ups

The team continued with weekly cleans from Newlands Swimming Pool to the siding in Rondebosch and undertook monthly cleans at Paradise Park, Riverside rd and River Park.

Cleaning Alfred stream

Most of the leaves have fallen off the alien deciduous trees so team have only had to clear the grid at Alfred stream once every two weeks.

Path Maintenance

The team have been sweeping the paths in the afternoons on a Monday and Thursday due to the deciduous alien trees loosing all their leaves in winter.

Canal Maintenance

The team continued cutting vegetation hanging in the canal. We dealt with one section in particular in Mowbray where a tree had fallen into the canal. This tree was removed and any other vegetation in the area was cleared from the canal.

Alien vegetation removal

The team concentrated on removing Kikuyu grass in June. The first section was just before Rouwkoop Rd where the team removed Kikuyu from the Sour figs. The second section was at the Mowbray wetland, where the team removed all the Kikuyu growing over the Restios next to the wetland. We will be concentrating more on alien invasive species in the months to come.

Other City department activities

City Parks

A City parks contract team have been busy fixing all the pot holes in a section of the Liesbeek trail in Rondebosch. Joyce, a resident in the area, was concerned about the progress and standard of work of the contract team and arranged an on site meeting with Marwaan (City Parks), Liz (Fol), James (Fol) and the contractors to discuss her concerns. The contractors were given a week to complete the work and fix up areas of concern. The following week we had another site meeting and all parties were satisfies with the completed pathway.

Roads and Storm water

Roads and storm water department continue to collect our Tuffy bags every Friday or Saturday at sites along the Liesbeek.

Displaced people Unit

Being the middle of winter most of the vagrants have disappeared off the river due to the cold and wet conditions. The displaced people unit was not contacted this month.


Training has been lacking again this month. The manager will be able to address this issue once the new supervisory position has been filled at the beginning of August. More time can be spent organising relevant skills and development training courses. The manager also conducted the first staff evaluations this month. This is a simple questionnaire that evaluates each member of the team, identifying areas for improvement, major strengths and their goals for the future. From this FoL can provide the correct training and skills development as far as possible to help them reach their goals.


James is awaiting the article from the Pinelands scouts which he will post on the website. James posted an article on the signage that has already been constructed.


Friends of the Liesbeek have decided to hire a new staff member for the maintenance project to act in a supervisory role for the team. Dr Kevin Winter (Chairperson), Trevor Hughs (Vice chair) and James Cooper (LMP manager) conducted interviews with 5 candidates at the Rondebosch library on the 24 July 2010. A candidate has been selected who will be starting at the beginning of August 2010.

This will enable James (Project manager) to concentrate more on communication with other City departments and increase the scope and quantity of work that the team can achieve.

Interesting Sightings

Cape Dwarf Chameleon

It has been a while since we have seen a Cape dwarf Chameleon on the river, presumably because of the cold winter months. This individual was found on a tree at Arbor Rd in Rondebosch while walking with the WESSA learners.

Fig. Cape Dwarf Chameleon

African Black Ducks

No less than 13 African Black ducks were sighted on the Liesbeek in Rondebosch. This area has been used by a breeding pair in the past but this is the first time so many have ever been seen.

Fig. Thirteen African Black ducks in Rondebosch

Something humorous

At the beginning of July 2010 one of the conservation students at Kenilworth (no names mentioned) received a call from a resident in Newlands who lives near Liesbeek. According to the student the resident had found a rare African Black Dog on the river and wanted to bring it our offices. We were a bit baffled by this and phoned the resident to find out about this rare African Black Dog. On talking to the resident we found that the student had misheard him and that it was in fact a rare African Black Duck chick that he had found. We asked him to bring it to our office so we could attempt to raise the duckling and hopefully re-introduce it to the wild only find out that in fact it was an Egyptian goose chick, who we have subsequently named Crispy.

Fig. Crispy the rare African Black ‘Dog’ in the Kenilworth office

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