Ammonia levels in the Hartenbos River have significantly increased as a result of breakdowns at the sewage plant that caused pure ammonia to spill into the river. Polluted water also flowed across the road and seeped into the Hartenbos River Resort. Continuous pressure by AfriForum’s Mossel Bay branch and support from the Mossel Bay Municipality, however, have resulted in the river mouth being opened up on 22 February to let the ammonia escape into and dilute in the ocean.
“The same scenario played itself out in October 2016, which completely destroyed the aquatic life. Had the river mouth been opened up immediately, piscine mortality would have been less. There was so much red tape to overcome before the Municipality could obtain authorisation to open up the river mouth, however, that irreversible damage had already been done by the time that the authorisation was eventually granted,” says Kobus Neethling, Chairperson for Environmental Affairs of AfriForum’s Mossel Bay branch, and also Chairperson of the Mossel Bay River Mouth Forum.
“There are various conflicting legislation and regulations promulgated by the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board. This makes it almost impossible to obtain authorisation to open any river mouth in the Western Cape,” says Thomas van Dalen, AfriForum’s Coordinator for the Western Cape.
“Thanks to excellent cooperation by Warren Manuel, a municipal officer, councillor Anton Dellemijn and the timeous intervention by Adv. Thys Gilliomee, the Municipal Manager who obtained authorisation within 20 minutes to open up the river mouth on 22 February 2017, helped to prevent a further disaster,” Neethling concludes.
AfriForum will continue to monitor the situation at the Hartenbos River mouth.
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