Mas­sive waves ex­pected in Dur­ban in years to come

Saturday Star - - NEWS - ARTHI GOPI AND DUN­CAN GUY

MORE of the mas­sive waves that flooded Dur­ban’s prom­e­nade last week­end can be ex­pected in years to come, ac­cord­ing to an ocean ex­pert.

“We could see as many as six a year by the end of the decade so ei­ther we carry on do­ing what we are do­ing or we ac­tively take steps to mit­i­gate the dam­age,” said An­drew Mather, a project ex­ec­u­tive for coastal pol­icy at the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Sea lev­els were ris­ing at a rate of 2.7mm a year, he said.

In the short-term, he fore­saw the like­li­hood of such “over­wash­ing” hap­pen­ing once or twice a year in the months of March and Septem­ber.

“There is a 90% chance of more fre­quent events of this na­ture,” said Mather.

Dur­ban is bet­ter placed than other cities to deal with the prob­lem by be­ing able to pump sand to the beach­front. “It works well. If it were not for the sand buf­fer the beaches would be more vul­ner­a­ble,” added Mather.

He went on to say that it was orig­i­nally pre­dicted that the waves, brought about by a com­bi­na­tion of a high spring tide, a full moon and a cy­clone off Mada­gas­car, would be 3.7m high. “In fact they were 5.5m. It caught us un­aware.”

They were not as high, nor as dam­ag­ing, as cy­clone-driven waves that struck in 2007 and mea­sured 8.5m, he said.

De­spite this, Dur­ban­ites have been promised a clean beach for this long week­end, after the city worked around the clock to clean up dam­age. eThek­wini mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son Tozi Mthethwa said all city beaches, ex­clud­ing Coun­try Club and eThek­wini Beach, were open.

“Beach clean-up oper­a­tions and shark net in­stal­la­tions are still on­go­ing at city beaches,” said Mthethwa.

Ar­eas in front of com­mer­cial sites have been cleared and swept us­ing a suc­tion truck.

“In terms of in­fra­struc­ture re­pairs, the ma­jor­ity of sea wall cap­ping has been re­placed.

“Plumb­ing has been re­paired and the show­ers all work. Six of the seven miss­ing shark nets have been re­cov­ered and all beaches be­tween uShaka Beach and the Coun­try Club had the nets re­in­stalled. The last re­main­ing net was in­stalled yes­ter­day,” she said.

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