News from Leisure Isle Residents' Association
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What LIRA does for home owners: * 24/7 proactive security * Sponsors Steenbok Nature Reserve * Champions peak season law enforcement * Liaison/lobbying Knysna Municipality * Liaison Nature Conservation/SANParks * Beautification of LI * Employment of gardeners * Hosts Leisure Isle Festival * Maintains property values and unequalled lifestyle * Professional and dedicated volunteer committee serving your interests

LIRA Newsletter
July 2016

Welcome to this update....
The LIRA fun-raising committee is planning a "Christmas in July" celebration on Friday July 29 at the Bowling Club.
Tickets: R200 per person, includes a  three-course meal, two glasses of wine, music and Bru coffee.
Please come dressed in an item/items of clothing which will be gifted to less advantaged communities. ie a jersey, coat, scarf, blanket, gloves etc. There will be a prize for the most innovative outfit.
   There will also be an auction of goodies to add to the fund-raising aspect of the evening.
Do join the fun! There are only 90 places available, hurry to Nadine's Coffee Shop to get a your tickets before they're all gone.

THE fun-raising team orgainised a superbly successful Progressive Dinner in April. It was a fantastic community event, with great fun had by all 32 couples who participated - even those who initially slunk reluctantly along with their spouses - with many new friendships made. A repeat is definitely on the cards!

Update on the Green Tide or Ulva bloom within the Knysna Estuary

Two scientific papers on the prolonged and worrisome Green Tide of the Knysna Estuary have recently been published in the South African Journal of Botany, with LI's own Emeritus Prof Brian Allanson among the authors.
   What does the research tell us about the bloom and is there a solution to this problem? These snippets from the papers have been provided by scientist Louw Claasens of The Knysna Basin Project....
  • The maximum algae wet weight of 2kg/m2, compared to the maximum of 10kg/m2 cited in the international literature, indicates the bloom in the Knysna Estuary is quite mild.
  • Nutrient enrichment, an increase in nitrate and phosphate, is the biggest cause of nuisance algae blooms.
  • The sheets of Ulva lactuca (the most prominent species responsible) tend to be moved around in the lower bay regime of the estuary by the tides - which results in high densities found on the beach along Land's End and Bollard Bay. It is, however, the Ashmead channel that has suffered the most from the ongoing green tide.
  • This research has found that parts of the Ashmead channel suffers from hypoxic conditions - ie dissolved oxygen concentrations of less than 5mg/l. Ammonium was found to be the nutrient most responsible for 'feeding' the bloom. Ammonium is found in waste water and stormwater run-off.
  • This is exacerbated by the hypoxic conditions - as it creates a perpetual cycle of nutrient availability between the sediment and the water column.
  • High masses of dying and decaying algae provide more nutrients to the cycle. The bloom is thus fed by a continued source of nutrients. The historic sewage spill of 2007, and the large quantity of sewage sludge that was released into the Ashmead channel, has undoubtedly contributed to the change in sediment biochemistry and thus contributed to the current state of the channel.
  • Isotope analyses of algal material suggests that the Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) is a major contributor of ammonium to the channel - and thus a major source of nutrients which feed the bloom.
  • The algal bloom has not only had an aesthetic effect on the Knysna Estuary, but also impacted the eel grass beds and surrounding vegetation (clearly visible when walking along Steenbok Park).
  • It is evident that the solution to this problem is complex. Everyone in Knysna has some part in the problem - as we all make use of the WWTW!
  • Development is inevitable and it is increasingly difficult to manage and conserve the natural environment. Action is required from management and various local groups are lobbying hard for this.
  • Each person can, however, help to make a difference - think about what goes into your drain (and realise that all stormwater drains end up in our estuary!). Nutrient-rich fertilizers are washed away by rain and can end up in the estuary which results in even more nutrients entering the system. Be vigilant and report any issues in and around the estuary (take photos!).
  • Increased development is placing strain on our beautiful estuary and it is everyone's responsibility in Knysna to protect it.
Louw additionally comments: "I don't think the Ulva bloom is going to go away on its own - although densities might change through seasons. If the nutrient sources are not stopped there's no reason for it to diminish.
   "Solutions will include those focused on the symptoms - removal of the Ulva, dredging (last resort) to increase the flow and flushing of the Ashmead channel.
   "Solutions focused on the cause will entail stopping nutrients from entering the system - by ensuring that the WWTW has enough capacity (which entails an upgrade and money!) and by managing the catchment (e.g. stormwater inflow, other nutrient sources).
   "The problem is very complex - and the solutions even more so."
She adds that SANParks and the municipality are aware of this research. "The Knysna Environmental Forum and SANParks forum are also focused on this problem and hopefully some steps will be taken to at least start with a solution process.
   "Just because it is a difficult problem to solve does not mean management should ignore it! I am also very determined to keep working on this problem by pushing management to take action - but alas - it is a tedious and long process!"

1. Allanson, BR, Human, LRD, Claassens, L, 2016. Observations on the distribution and abundance of a green tide along an intertidal shore, Knysna Estuary. South African Journal of Botany.

2. Human, LRD, Adams, JB, Allanson, BR 2016. Insights into the cause of an Ulva lactuca Linnaeus bloom in the Knysna Estuary. South African Journal of Botany

To get copies of these papers, email Louw
THIS time of the year is noted for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets, mirror-like water and the fabulous bird activity in the lagoon.
   At low tide, flocks of cormorants, egrets, spoonbills and herons fishing in the estuary are a common sight, and this year they seem to be enjoying a particularly abundant smorgasbord of minnows and sprats, so aptly illustrating the estuary's importance as one of SA's most vital fish incubators.


IN early November, Leisure Isle will once again turn into Treasure Isle!
   Plans are well underway for this year's festival, under the guidance of new convenor, Niall Johnston. The format and formula that proved so successful over the past two years at Kingsway Park will remain in place.
   Niall is helped by an enthusiastic committee of Bob Hunt, Chris Kay, Iain Butchart, Sheena Maré and Natalie Scanlan. 
   Please diarise - and join in on two days of happy shopping, eating, drinking and relaxing - all the while supporting a flock of local entrepreneurs and all the charities who benefit from the festival proceeds! Last year over R200K was raised and Niall is confident that this will be bettered this year.

Fibre optic broadband coming to Leisure Isle

CONNECTIVITY is as important these days as having a refrigerator, and the good news for Leisure Islanders is that it's going to get a whole lot better in the next 18 months or so.
  Here's some detail on the KnysnaON project that will bring high-speed broadband to the town and surrounds over the next five years, aimed at kick-starting better economic times for Knysna via its potential to attract internet-dependent businesses to the area.
   Here's a reportback after a meeting with LaserNet representatives:

  • In an open tender, Jo'burg-based LaserNet won the contract to roll-out a high-speed fibre network for the municipal area over the next five years at an investment value of R150m. There's no cost to KM or ratepayers, and the company will recoup its investment through a ten-year exclusivity agreement with KM.
  • KnysnaON will be rolled out in five phases, with the first phase of installing over 120km of fibre-optic cables under way. In this first year, the fibre link from Cape Town will connect to Knysna CBD, the Knysna Industrial Area and Thesen Island.
  • In the second and third years the bulk of Knysna's neighbourhoods will come online, including Leisure Isle next year, and most of the suburbs off George Rex Drive.
  • During the fourth year, the high-speed microwave link to Sedgefield will be installed with more links bringing the outlying areas online during the final year.
  • KM has stipulated a 'one-trench' policy ie only LaserNet's cable-laying sub-contractors will be permitted to dig trenches under verges or roads. As topography dictates, aerial wires and microwave links are other options.
  • These sub-contractors will work in close consultation with KM and residents' associations such as LIRA in respect of routing etc.
  • Every house on Leisure Isle and elsewhere will be fitted with a connection point once the infrastructure is laid down.
  • Final connection/uptake is the choice of the homeowner - you may opt for the new service, stay with Telkom/other ADSL services, or use mobile operator's 3G or do nothing. You will be able to use existing wireless routers.
  • LaserNet advises that the more homeowners who express interest in the service, the faster their suburb will get it.
  • Businesses anxious to benefit from high-speed connectivity will be able to sign on earlier via microwave links.
  • LaserNet says it is too early to announce pricing details, but that it will be more expensive than ADSL, but not significantly so, AND the service will be infinitely superior. Download and upload speeds of 50Mb or more will be possible. Essentially, data quantity and speed will determine the price you pay. For household use, 10Mb is the advised optimum, about five times the average speed of ADSL in SA.
  • LaserNet will act as both a retailer to individual customers, as well as a wholesaler to IT companies who can buy its broadband capacity for on-selling to customers.
  • LaserNet, for now, is dependent on Telkom's fibre optic node that's in place in Knysna for access to the worldwide web, but this is likely to change as more players set up long-distance fibre optic cabling infrastructure.
  • Added benefits of fibre optic connectivity include VOIP telephone calling ie good-bye to landlines and hello free calls; the means to remotely monitor and control the likes of CCTV security cameras, alarm systems, irrigation, or gate or garage systems, as well as electricity and water meters.
  • LaserNet will embark on regular and comprehensive education, updates, publicity and promotions as the project progresses via KM newsletters, newspaper articles and announcements via LIRA and other homeowners' associations.

See more here

Property update from Sotheby's Sheena Maré

THE Leisure Isle property market has been very active this past year. Prices are increasing, mainly due to short supply and high demand. This of course bodes well for property owners particularly since our values dropped by about 40% since the start of the recession in 2008.
   Yet further evidence of the confidence in LI is the number of homes, a dozen at least, currently under major rebuilding and renovation, just as there were last year.
   Unlike most areas in SA, the Garden Route has been extremely active this year. It seems that more and more people are relocating to this part of the world, and George is one of the biggest growth points in SA at the moment. I also notice that we are selling more homes to families who are moving her permanently rather than as holiday homes.
   We do have waiting lists of buyers, who if the right property comes onto the market they would invest. If you have been considering selling, this could be a good time to put this thought into action. We have plenty of potential buyers!

LI's rainfall stats illustrate how we all need to save water!
Courtesy Steenbok Nature Reserve
THIS African penguin was found this week hunkering under some roots on the estuary edge on Bayswater Drive.
   Thanks to islander Gael Stephens for finding it, and organising an efficient rescue to rehab by SANParks. Ranger Peter Roman certainly needed those thick gloves to handle a very indignant bird!

Wanted! Help with Steenbok's Park's new recipe book!

AS a fund-raising exercise, the Steenbok team is working to compile a recipe book with a unique 'Friends of Steenbok Nature Reserve' identity.
    You're invited to share your favourite recipe/s, as well as any stories of happy and memorable times spent in the park, with compiler, Diana Stromberg.
   The book will be sold on the Steenbok stand at the Leisure Isle Festival in November.
Email Diana at; and you can find more info here on the Steenbok Park website. 
THE appearance of two Southern Right Whales cavorting and wallowing in the Knysna Heads caused much excitement on June 8.
   The whales were spotted in the late afternoon and, as word spread about their appearance, crowds flocked to the Heads to get a glimpse of them.
   Until the sun went down, sometime after 18h00, people were still watching the whales.
   It is reportedly rare to see the Southern Right Whales at this time of the year.

The Knysna Animal Welfare annual winter quiz night!

23 July, Knysna Bowling Club
THE theme is "Christmas in July", the cost of R80 includes gluhwein, tasty soups and breads, and you can bring your own snacks. Drinks from the Bowling Club bar only.

Prize for the the "Best Dressed" table.

You can make up a team of up to 8 people, or KAWS will put you in a team. All proceeds to KAWS. Great prizes for the winning team.

Booking essential, before 18 July, contact:

Whoo-hoo! The Choo-Tjoe on the comeback!

HAVE YOU HEARD? One of the Garden Route's top tourist attractions after the Knysna estuary, the long-missed Choo-Tjoe train is, at long last, entering rehab!
   A team of specialist contractors has moved into Knysna to repair the George-Knysna railway line in preparation for the opening of a new tourist train service. The line has been out of commission since 2006, when flood damage forced the closure of the popular Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam train between Knysna and George.
   Now, however, Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) has appointed Knysna-based Classic Rail as its preferred branch line concessionaire for a period of 20 years. The company received beneficial occupation of the line on 16 February 2016. The team on site includes Classic Rail's consortium partners, MechMobility, Global Civil Solutions, and Afri-Jero Track Engineers.
   While it will take some time for steam to return to the Garden Route, Classic Rail CEO Alan McVitty hopes to have the Knysna Dinner Train running between the Knysna Station and Keytersnek by December, 2016.  
   The first phase of the development (the restoration of the line between Knysna and Keytersnek, near the Rheenendal turnoff on the N2, see pic right), will also include the restoration of four dining carriages and two freight cars, which will be converted to open viewing carriages.
   "We have all the engineering and equipment in place to transport the rolling stock to Knysna by road as soon as the track is ready. This includes both the carriages and our 100-ton classic Class 32 diesel locomotives - the first diesels used in South Africa," says McVitty.
   Meals for the Knysna Dinner Train will be prepared in a new restaurant that will be created in the Knysna Station, and that will incorporate the historic Governor Generals' Private Saloon (which was built in 1931, and which is currently standing alongside the station platform). 
   "Once Knysna's up and running, we'll begin work on the second and third phases of the project, which will include reopening the line to George for the New Outeniqua Choo Tjoe, as well as for other tourist trains and, ultimately, freight trains by 2020."
Read more here
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LIRA would like as many Islanders as possible to receive these newsletters.
   If you have family members, tenants or friends who would be interested in getting our news, we'd like to add them to our mailing database.
   Please send email details to 
Brenda Neall.
We welcome your comments and feedback on this newsletter. And your input, too! Your news, ideas, stories, happenings are welcome.

Correspondence: Brenda Neall, website & newsletter
To contact our LIRA chairman, Keith Hollis: 
LIRA website: