Environmental Affairs rejects causeway appeal

2017-09-28 06:01

KOUGA Municipality and the Department of Environmental Affairs have reached a stalemate regarding the causeway between Aston Bay and Paradise Beach at Jeffreys Bay.

The Department on Friday rejected an appeal by the municipality to breach the mouth of the Seekoei estuary so as to lower the water level and clear the causeway. The causeway has been submerged by water for more than a month following unusually high seas in August.

Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen said the municipality was very disappointed by the outcome of the appeal.

“It effectively ties our hands when it comes to bringing immediate relief to motorists crossing the causeway,” she said. “We have already tried pumping water from the estuary, but this proved unsustainable.”

The Mayor said emergency meetings were held with the Departments of Environmental Affairs, Water and Sanitation, and Roads and Public Works to address the recurring problem.

“We have explored all avenues, but there appears to be no other short-term solution than breaching the mouth.

“We submitted an appeal to the Department, with supporting letters from the Paradise Beach community and the Nelson Mandela University research team that is compiling an Estuarine Management Plan for the Seekoei.

“The Department, however, rejected the appeal and is adamant that anyone who attempts to open the mouth of the Seekoei manually would be breaking the law.”

She said the municipality would continue lobbying for support to breach the mouth and that a letter has been submitted to the provincial head of Environmental Affairs, requesting him to intervene following the Department’s rejection of the appeal.

“There are indications that breaching the mouth could actually benefit the estuary at this stage. In addition to helping to lower the water level, it will help to decrease the salt content of the estuary, which is already at a point where fish and vegetation could start dying.”

She said work was also progressing well on the Estuarine Management Plan, with the first public participation meeting about the draft situation assessment report having been called for 18:30 on 9 October at the Dutch Reformed church hall at Paradise Beach.

“We would like to encourage all stakeholders to attend the meeting as the plan will be key in how we manage the estuary and causeway going forward,” she said. “The previous Councils neglected to have a proper plan drawn up for the estuary, which is why the problems around the causeway could never be addressed conclusively.”

She said Council valued all the inputs they have received from residents about the causeway and possible solutions.

“We would also like to thank Paradise Beach’s Ward 12 Committee rep Lieb Swiegers, the Paradise Beach Neighbourhood Watch and other stakeholder groups for their ongoing support.”

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