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Sand Dune Invasion — Betty's Bay

Public Participation Meeting — 11h00 on Saturday 18 July 2015 at Crassula Hall.

After many months of perseverance by the Betty’s Bay Dune Interest Group (DIG) and the Betty’s Bay Ratepayers Association (BBRA) in communicating with anyone prepared to listen regarding the drift sand problems at Main Beach, we have now finally arrived at what we hope will be the starting point of a chain of events which will lead to a stabilised and rehabilitated dune field at Main Beach.

The Betty’s Bay DIG Committee have met in Stellenbosch on 21 April 2015 with representatives of Cape Nature, Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning (DEADP) - Environmental Management Directorate, Overstrand Department of Environmental Management and Mr Laurie Barwell, a specialist consultant in the field of coastal and dune management.

Mr Barwell is a civil engineer who has worked at the Natural Resources and the Environment Division of the CSIR in Stellenbosch for more than 20 years in the Dune Rehabilitation and Stabilisation field. Mr Barwell (now retired) is currently involved with the Pringle Bay Rate Payers Association (PBRA) and Overstrand Municipality in addressing sand encroachment problems in Pringle Bay. Mr Barwell has been part of a CSIR team that developed a Dune Management Plan for Pringle Bay in the 80’s and has a long association with Pringle Bay. The original Pringle Bay Plan was only partially implemented and while the part that was implemented is still stable today the part not implemented now creates a major problem. Mr Barwell has now been contracted by the PBRA to update the original PB Plan to accommodate changed conditions on the ground and new Legislation and to resubmit the Plan to DEADP for approval. Mr Barwell has now been also approached by Mr Pierre de Villiers (Cape Nature) to also provide an opinion on the way forward at Main Beach in Betty’s Bay.

At the meeting Mr Barwell presented on the work being done at Pringle Bay and explained the methods being used. He also gave a view on what could be done at Main Beach based on his initial investigation. The most important insight for the DIG Committee was that the problem at Main Beach is not particularly difficult to manage and that it has been done successfully at many other areas (e.g. Stilbaai & Big Bay in Blouberg).

The way forward for us here in Betty’s Bay is the same as for Pringle Bay - namely:
  1. Register the intention to generate a Dune Management Plan with DEADP – this must be done by the Municipality.

  2. Generate a Dune Management Plan for the Main Beach dune field – this will be done by Mr Laurie Barwell with some assistance from Cape Nature.

  3. Get approval of the Management Plan from DEADP – Overstrand Municipality.

  4. Implement the rehabilitation and stabilisation part of the plan.

  5. Maintain the stabilised and rehabilitated dune field.

The Dune Management Plan b) is a permanent Plan - unlike the temporary Plan submitted by the Municipality earlier this year. The objective of the former is to rehabilitate the dune field and thereafter maintain it. The objective of the latter is to allow the Municipality to, in the interim – until the permanent plan has been generated and approved by Province, legally remove the sand to keep the roads open and to deposit the sand back on the beach.

It should also be noted that item d) above (implementation) would require significant funding - figures of R3m to R4m for a turnkey contract has been mentioned. There could be a benefit of scale if the BB and PB work is done together during implementation. There are many ways to fund the implementation phase, but we first have to have an approved Management Plan.

Item e) above (maintenance) would require a continuous low level funding basically for ever and a Special Rating Area may be the best funding model for this.

Nothing can be done at all until items a) & b) above have been completed. This has been our main obstacle thus far, but through the involvement of Mr Laurie Barwell, we finally have a way of achieving this.

We are happy to report that we have the full and enthusiastic support of the various DEADP Directorates involved to find environmentally sound and legally acceptable means to manage the dune fields. Being the enforcing authority of the environmental laws, DEADP cannot be instrumental in generating the plan, but they are actively participating in the discussion and provide guidance to ease the eventual approval of the Plan. They have agreed that we, as is also the case in Pringle Bay, do not have to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but only provide a Management Plan – this is a major cost saver. Cape Nature is providing two Environmental Management interns (master degree graduates) to assist Laurie in the preparation of the Betty’s Bay Dune Management Plan to reduce the cost of Laurie’s consultancy fees.

In May 2015 the BBRA and the PBRA were invited by Mr Coenie Groenewald, the Municipal Manager (MM) of Overstrand Municipality, to discuss the dune rehabilitation project and more specifically possible funding models for the project. The meeting was also attended by the Executive Mayor Alderlady Nicolette Botha-Guthrie, the Manager Environmental Affairs Liezl Bezuidenhout and various other officials. During the meeting the MM expressed sympathy with the plight of those affected by the sand problems in Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay and pledged the assistance of the Municipality in addressing the problems, but added that the Overstrand Budget is under severe strain and that it would very difficult to allocate funding to the BB and PB projects.

The Municipality has however applied for more than R3m of funding from the Work for Coast job creation program of the Central Government that could be used for this purpose. Most of this funding would however be in the form of unskilled labour and some additional funding would have to be found for the civil works part of the plans. The Mayor also expressed her enthusiastic support for the projects at the meeting.

Mr Barwell’s fee for doing the investigation and generating the Management Plan (item b) above) is R50k. This represents only about a week’s worth of work at the current Professional Engineer consultancy fees. Mr Barwell’s will be spending many more hours than one week of effort on the task and this number is therefore really exceptionally reasonable. Also required as input to the work is a three dimensional survey of the dune field adding a further cost of about R25K. Overstrand Municipality has offered to fund the survey work if the rate payers fund Mr Barwell’s work. The survey has now been completed and the data provided to Mr Barwell. The same process has been followed at Pringle Bay. Pringle Bay has an existing Management Plan that only needs to be updated and the cost for the Plan is therefore lower (R25k) and the PBRA has already collected about R30k for this purpose. In Betty’s Bay we still have to collect funds for the generation of the Management Plan and the BBRA has decided to assist in collecting and administering funds for this purpose.

The sand dune problem has been one which has been a thorn in our side for a considerable period of time and has been in the forefront of the BBRA agenda and at last a viable solution is on the cards. This solution will benefit all residents of Bettys Bay in one form or another and we therefore appeal to all those who see the benefits laid out in this missive to contribute towards the cost of the planning exercise. The BBRA will administer donations through their bank account and will ring fence such funds for this purpose alone.

Donations should be deposited to the following bank account:

Betty’s Bay Ratepayers Association
ABSA Hermanus
Cheque Account Number: 4066616439
(Depositors should reference their contributions as follows – Surname-Erf Number-DIG i.e. Smith 1234 DIG)

Should you prefer cheques can be mailed to us at:

Betty’s Bay Ratepayers Association
P.O. Box 48
Betty’s Bay

There are many advantages to be gained by all the BBRA members (in fact the whole BB community) in the rehabilitation and stabilisation of the Main Beach area (see below) and therefore the BBRA Management Committee requests contributions from our members and all other residents and property owners in Betty’s Bay.

Successful stabilisation and rehabilitation of the Main Beach dune field will bring the following advantages:
  1. Improved access to the beach for the general public including parking

  2. Improvement in functionality and safety of the road network near the beach area

  3. Preservation of the behind the dunes fresh water ecological system for the benefit of future generations

  4. Aesthetic improvement of the beach area that would lead to increased tourism and a boost to the village economy.

There are additional advantages to be gained in particular by the owners of affected properties close to the beach; most of who are members of the Betty’s Bay Dune Interest Group. Members of DIG and all other property owners in Nerine, Morea and Nivenia roads will also be approached directly by the DIG Committee to make contributions.

There are significant advantages for the Overstrand Municipality as well:
  1. Recovery of property values will restore and grow the tax base in the main beach area.

  2. Reduction in the current cost of service deliver (water, sanitation, etc.)

  3. Reduction in the cost of road maintenance in the area – the current cost of keeping the roads open is significant.

  4. Increase tourism further growing the tax base.

There will be a presentation by Laurie Barwell in the Crassula Hall on Saturday 18 July 2015 at 11H00 to provide more information about the proposed plan.

Gottlieb van der Merwe, Chairman – Dune Interest Group, Member – Bettys Bay Ratepayers Association