Concern about Hartenbos River
The Hartenbos River Forum argues that the river water is unfit for recreational purposes and that warning signs indicating such should be placed along the banks of the river.On 20 November the Hartenbos River Forum, a valued partner of the Mossel Bay Municipality in addressing the challenges regarding the Hartenbos Estuary, sent the municipality a letter suggesting that the results of a river water sample which they had collected and had sent to a laboratory for analyses, indicates that the Hartenbos
Estuary is unfit for recreational purposes.
In response, the municipality sent the results to the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation (DWS); the Breed-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA) and the Garden Route District Municipality and asked that they interpret the results and advise on the appropriate way forward.
The BGCMA determined that the results, when compared to the South African Water Quality Guidelines for Coastal Waters, indicate a low risk to human health.
Mossel Bay Municipality also informed the Wildlife Environmental Society of Southern Africa (WESSA), which is the implementer of Blue Flag in South Africa, of the situation.
The Hartenbos River Forum, with the support of the municipality, submitted a request to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) for the breaching of the Hartenbos River on 23 November.
This request, however, was denied by DEA&DP and therefore the municipality could not proceed with the breaching of the river.
Chairperson of the Hartenbos River Forum Phillip Vermaak said the intent was to prevent a repeat of the 2016 midget invasion.
"Furthermore, the forum is worried about the excessive fresh water in the river.
"For that reason, we implored the Department of Environmental Affairs to have the river breached during the November full moon to make full use of the higher than normal high leap tide.
"The department declined the request without giving reasons for its decision. The forum has since insisted on a written, urgent explanation for its decision. We believe that the department's delay in furnishing written reasons for denying permission to breach the river is seriously prejudicial to our members and to the environment"
Given the concerns raised by the Hartenbos River Forum about water quality in both the river and sea, the Mossel Bay Municipality will initiate several measures to ensure that water quality in the river and at the Blue Flag beach is adequately monitored:
• Weekly analyses of sea water samples from the Blue Flag beach were to commence on 26 November. These samples will be tested for e-coli, pH and faecel streptococci. • Weekly analyses of river water samples by an accredited laboratory were to commence on 26 November. These will be tested for e-coli, pH, faecel streptococci and ammonia • Daily dissolved oxygen; salinity; temperature; and pH sampling in the river will also commence upon completion of the supply chain management process. The closing date for tenders is Friday, 30 November. The tests should therefore begin within the next week or two.
The sample of water from the Hartenbos River that the Hartenbos River Forum has sent for independent tests.