City and forum work on ‘riverlution’

From left, chairperson of water management, Jackie Whales, Chairperson of solid waste, Bronwen Lankers-Byrne, Chairperson of Hout Bay United Park and Hout Bay Rivers Catchment Forum, Terry Murphy and Vice-chairperson of Hout Bay United Park, Jemimah Birch.

The Hout Bay Rivers Catchment Forum (HBRCF) and the City will work to establish a major conservation and recreational area, stretching from Kronendal Primary School, along the Disa River, and encompassing the beach area.

The HBRCF aims to preserve and conserve the entire river area, which will include an exercise area; a picnic area, which will be demarcated; a roller area, which will include bicycles and skateboards, and a play area for children.

The HBRCF is an NGO funded by the City of Cape Town and was established in 2013. The organisation aims to bring together government and the interests of residents.

It was originally established in 1998 and ran until 2000 but the forum disintegrated when funding dried up.

The forum met with various government departments, where they were introduced to Abdulla Parker, head of the Catchment Planning region 2 (South), Storm water and Sustainability at the City of Cape Town. He has been influential in helping to restart the River Corridor Management Strategy.

The forum was re-introduced when Terry Murphy, at the time the chairperson of the Hout Bay Trust Organisation, wanted to preserve the heritage of Hout Bay. It was then decided that it was best to focus on the conservation route rather than the heritage route.

“Abdulla spoke to me and said he would be rather keen for me to restart the catchment forum and that he would actively support the forum. The forum met with the City of Cape Town on two separate occasions which had more than 60 people in attendance.

“The co-operation from the officials at the City of Cape Town is extremely good and very encouraging to us. Just as volunteers, our intentions are good and our knowledge is good, but without the active co-operation of these officials who are in charge of doing the work, then we wouldn’t get anywhere, so it’s very gratifying,” said Mr Murphy.

The forum was re-introduced in May this year with over 60 active members, which were divided into four special interest groups; storm-water, sewerage, sanitation and water quality, waste management and invasive clearing.

“All these special interest groups are linked together,” said Jackie Whales, who is the chairperson for the forum’s water management, which includes water quality, pollution and health, and founder of Friends of the Rivers of Hout Bay.

“Due to the lack of infrastructure, all of the sewerage ends up in the storm-water drains,” she said.

The forum hopes to establish a conservation and recreational area along the Disa River, which will feature a designated exercise area, an area for those who enjoy rollerblading and skateboarding, a picnic area, and various checkpoints to access the Disa River, with a boardwalk along the beach.

“The catchment forum is there to advise and give expert knowledge to those at the City of Cape Town who deals with water management and waste control. There is a host of issues which needs expert advice. The officials make us aware of the issues that they have and we make them aware of the problems that we’ve got and we are making progress towards resolving them and that’s what is going on with the special interest groups,” said Mr Murphy.

Bronwen Lankers-Byrne, the founder of Hout Bay environmental awareness organisation, Thrive, is the chairperson of the solid waste division. She and her team met with a City official on Tuesday October 25.

“There are solutions (for waste disposal) it’s not rocket science. It does require people to come together for a way forward. It needs structure.

“We want to discuss what systems are being used, who the contractors are.

“We also had a small project to test this theory which was treated in 2009 in collaboration with Hout Bay recycling in Imizamo Yethu, and showing that you can, if you separate it at the source at the household level, that you can actually make a difference in terms of jobs, money and (you can) do a lot more.”

The organisation is collaborating with various partnerships with a zero waste management pilot in Hangberg, to help residents separate their waste into food waste, recycle waste and landfill waste. This project will run for a year and will begin early next year.

“The aim is to create a micro-enterprise which could further tender other projects around this kind of system around waste management,” said Ms Lankers-Byrne.

For more information, email Mr Murphy on