Tons of sand are set to be removed from the beach between Aston Bay and Paradise Beach over the next three weeks to open the mouth of the Seekoei estuary at Jeffreys Bay.
The artificial breaching of the estuary mouth got under way on Monday (13 May) after authorisation was received from the East Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT).
Kouga Community Services Portfolio Councillor Daniel Benson said the municipality had submitted an emergency application to the Department, requesting permission to breach the mouth artificially.
“We submitted the application because of the large number of fish that were trapped and dying in the salty waters of the estuary.
“The salt level of the estuary shot up to twice that of sea water over the summer months due to evaporation. Estuarine life simply cannot survive under those circumstances.”
He said breaching the mouth so that sea water could flow into the estuary could help to reduce the salinity of the lagoon.
“The salinity of the estuary is so much higher than that of the ocean at the moment that the sea water could actually help to lower the salt content of the lagoon,” he said.
“Ideally, what we need, is strong rains to boost the inflow of fresh water from upstream, but that is beyond our control.
“While the inflow of sea water will not solve the problem completely, it will help.”
He said the breaching was being overseen by estuary expert Prof Tris Wooldridge while the Seekoei Estuary Management Committee would also be monitoring the progress.
“It is estimated that it will take at least three weeks to complete the excavation work as there is an enormous amount of sand that needs to be removed.
“The trench will be about 50m wide and 500m long, with the sand being dumped on the far side of the Aston Bay hall where the sea can sweep it away.”
He said the excavation site, as well as a section of the parking area, had been cordoned off.
“We ask that residents please stay clear of the demarcated area for safety reasons.”
Photo: Koffie Jacobs