At around 0230 on Thursday 26 January, following unprecedented rain fall both in the area and in the catchment, the dam in the Greystone Nature Preserve breached. The dam which had only just refilled from months of being empty after the poor rainfall from the previous rainy season was unable to deal with this onslaught, the spillway simply could not handle the flow and an inspection prior to the breach revealed that the flood waters were actually flowing over the dam wall.
The response from both the local community, friends and nature lovers far and wide, has been overwhelming with offers of help, condolences and support.
A very brief historical background. In the 1940s three interlinking earth wall dams were built on Jacaranda Farm, now Greystone Park. These were used as irrigation support for the lower croplands. Traces of the irrigation canals built with the help of Italian POWs can still be found. In the late 50s or early 60s a more than average rainfall caused all three dams to breach. Instead of repairing all three it was decided to rebuild and enlarge the highest of these dams, which is the current dam. The refurbish was professionally undertaken with rails to carry coco pans running along the existing wall. As a lad, living nearby, I personally witnessed this major undertaking.
The 1970s saw the development of Greystone Park as a residential area. Provision was made for certain areas of wetland to be officially designated as “Greenbelt”. One such property was stand 561, a seven hectare piece of land which included the dam. As a first time buyer and environmentalist I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase stand 562, bordering this greenbelt. The degradation of stand 561 was at first imperceptible, but with the increase of fuel costs, the pressure on fuel wood together with the lack of refuse collection, stand 561, like many other open space wetlands, quickly came under severe pressure from illegal woodcutting and dumping. At this juncture I, together with a number of other concerned home owners, decided to form an association to protect this fragile area, and in June 1993 the Greystone Nature Preserve Association (GNPA) came into being with a membership of five. This was quickly supported by other local residents and within a short period we had a family membership of eighty!
Three large truck loads of rubbish, including car parts, beds and mattresses, a swimming pool filter and lots of general unwanted goods were removed. A close eye on illegal woodcutting reduced this practice to almost nothing. A generously donated fence (now in some disrepair) also worked wonders.
As an aside, some things we are less proud of; due to the drought in the early 90s, the dam very nearly emptied. This condition revealed a number of weapons of war including several hundred rounds of ammunition that had been dumped at Independence. The drought of 2015/16 left the dam with absolutely no water in it. This exposed further stretches of dry land and more dumped weapons of war including two unexploded mortar bombs. Experts including members of the army and police were called in to deal with these. Because of the age and state of decay of the mortars, it was agreed that trying to move them would have been very dangerous, they were therefore detonated on the spot under controlled conditions.
Due to a number of reasons, membership of the GNPA has reduced dramatically. Following this current catastrophe, it is our hope that with the renewed attention and support being shown, many people within our community and those who just care about preservation of nature, will take this opportunity of becoming members. To keep membership of the Nature Preserve within everyone’s reach, family membership is only $20 per year, but in order to keep going, if possible, we do also need donations together with your membership contributions.
The GNPA is determined to take the current situation as a positive sign to rebuild this little piece of paradise with the dam being the jewel in the crown, but we need your help. Who knows what effect the current Global Warming will have on our weather system? But this time we hope we will be prepared for any eventuality!
For those wishing to help financially either by becoming members or by donation or hopefully both, our banking details are as follows:
Greystone Nature Preserve Association
CABS Gold Class
Be sure to give us your name and address or email so that all contributions can be officially receipted.
(CHAIRMAN – GNPA)