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Wednesday Aug 07, 2013

Cape Town acts to protect beaches

The City of Cape Town is closely monitoring a top Cape Town beach which has all but washed away, but is taking immediate action in Hout Bay and at the Cape's famous nudist beach, Sandy Bay, which is also under threat.

Gordon's Bay 'Blue Flag' beach is receding

Bikini Beach in Gordon's Bay is a 'Blue Flag' status beach, one of more than 3 850 beaches and marinas in 48 countries which have been awarded the honour.

South Africa has 35, the Western Cape oversees 22 and the City of Cape Town seven.

In the past months, heavy winter seas have stripped it of tons of sand, leaving a steep, rock-strewn descent into False Bay. The steepness also encourages a nastier shore-break, which is not as swimmer-friendly when more sand is present.

But Gregg Oelofse, head of the city's Environmental Policy and Strategy, Environmental Resource Management Department, reassured sunseekers that the department was watching the beach closely.

'It's an important beach for the city, as a Blue Flag beach, but it should replenish naturally,' he told the Cape Argus.

'The shoreline is naturally rocky and the beach has been created by the harbour wall - which impacts the way in which sea water deposits sand.

'Our intention is to intervene as little as possible, as we have learnt that the more you intervene, the more you mess the situation up. It's best to let the natural system do its own thing.

'But we'll monitor it over the next few months and if the sand is not replenished we'll intervene if necessary,' Oelofse said.

Bikini Beach is a favourite in summer when one of the Cape summer's three prevailing winds blow, the southerly wind, as it is completely sheltered from that wind by the Hottentots Holland mountains above the Steenbras River mouth point.

The city's other Blue Flag beaches are Camps Bay, Clifton 4th Beach, Mnandi beach, Muizenberg beach, Silwerstroomstrand beach and Strandfontein beach. In 1984, Clifton's 4th Beach was almost entirely washed away by the biggest storm in decades, yet it had recovered to its sandy state naturally, Oelofse recalled.

At Hout Bay and Sandy Bay, however, the city is taking immediate action.

The parking area at the west of the Hout Bay beach has been snowed under by the growth of a giant dune, which the city says 'poses a risk to key infrastructure such as the electricity sub-station, roads, private property, and has a negative impact on the Hout Bay environment'.

'It is essential that the city reduce the sand bulk before the summer south-easter winds set in,' it said.

At Sandy Bay, the removal of sand will take place from Monday and involve loading sand on to trucks to be transported to a site above the beach.

'This is being undertaken in conjunction with Table Mountain National Park, with the possibility of recreating the wind-blown sand transport system to Sandy Bay,' the city explained.

The planned works are likely to take place over at least two months.

'The second phase... is likely to begin in early September and will consist of grading and re-shaping parts of the beach itself...' the city said.

Cape Argus


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