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Tuesday Nov 27, 2012

R27m tidal pool for uMhlanga a 'waste of money'

The proposed development of a R27 million tidal pool has drawn criticism from both residents of uMhlanga and environmental rights groups.

Residents and environmentalists are planning a march to protest the development on Wednesday in Lagoon Drive at 10am.

The project, put in motion by the eThekwini Municipality, forms part of the city's uMhlanga Improvement Precinct (UIP) to help mitigate uMhlanga's limited beach width and associated problems.

The project was supposed to have commenced in 2007, but was suspended, after a severe storm which caused extensive damage to coastal infrastructure. This saw the city redirect funds to emergency disaster projects.

Now resuscitating the project, the city believes the tidal pool will alleviate overcrowding.

Ward councillor Heinz de Boer (DA) said the march was to let the City know that the DA considered the tidal pool not only wasteful and a non-essential expenditure, but could well be washed away or damaged in the near future.

"More importantly, we believe this R27m budget could be better spent on providing vital infrastructure and homes to the thousands who have waited decades for decent services." Deputy head of coastal, stormwater and catchment management Randeer Kasserchun, said earlier this year that his office was still busy with an environmental impact assessment for the project.

"If all goes well we are expected to start this project in the latter part of 2013 and construction would take between eight and 10 months."

It had been established, said the City in a document on the development, that the coastal stretch along the main uMhlanga node frequently experienced limited or no beach area, especially during high tides.

A Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) study, commissioned by the City, concluded that building a tidal pool immediately north of the uMhlanga Lighthouse with a beach perched above it was the most feasible way of maintaining an acceptable beach width.

The municipality said in the same document that the tidal pool had secondary benefits including providing a secure area for swimming after large storms that may lead to the closure of other beaches.

Environmental bodies were also not impressed with the City's chosen course of action.

Chairman Diana Dold of Wildlife Environmental Society of SA's (Wessa) Coastwatch programme said after all this time they had hoped that the proposal had died the death it deserved.

"So to plough millions into a structure which is not needed makes no sense at all. This money would be far better spent in upgrading our sewage works so that the outflows into our rivers and hence into the sea was improved.

Environment justice body, groundWORK via its spokeswoman, Megan Lewis, said it was irresponsible for this type of money to be spent on building a tidal pool, when on the other side of the city, the beaches had recently been reported as posing a serious health threat to the public due to high levels of E. coli and other bacteria.

"For many years, in fact, the city has not adequately managed the sewage infrastructure resulting in highly contaminated beaches in Durban."

Desmond D'sa of the South Durban Community and Environmental Alliance said there was a backlog for people on the housing list and it would take over 80 years to eradicate slums and transit camps, yet money was being wasted.

Daily News

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