Dredging probe is urgent

THE dredging saga continues this week, with more twists in the tale.

Although Ramhoa has stopped dredging the Kowie River pending the outcome of an investigation by the department of economic development and environmental affairs (Dedea), Ramhoa insists it has “current approval to discharge the dredger output in the East Beach dunes”.

When it placed a notice in TotT on August 23 that it would recommence dredging the lower reaches of the Kowie River, Ramhoa cited a record of decision (ROD) by Dedea in 2007, and a more recent approval by the department of water and environmental affairs, in February this year, to periodically take a TLB onto the beach to “maintain the dredger spoil site”.

While the approval to drive a TLB on the beach is well and good, it presupposes current approval for the dredging operation and disposal of spoils on East Beach, and therein lies the problem.

The ROD was only valid for 12 months from commencement of dredging in 2007, and dredging had start to within six months of authorisation.

Furthermore, dredge spoils had to be discharged on the East Beach “surf zone” and it is debatable whether this includes the dunes beyond the high water mark.

It also must be remembered that the applicant for the 2007 ROD was actually Ndlambe municipality, and Ramhoa is contracted to do the dredging for the municipality.

The marina’s benefit of course, is that it keeps a channel open to allow homeowners to have floating jetties on the river.

According to the scoping report that preceded the 2007 ROD, a previous ROD granted Ramhoa permission to dump the dredge spoils in the dunes.

“Small-scale dredging has been taking place in the marina since 1989, with disposal via a surface pipeline into the dunes behind East Beach. Prior to the ROD granted in June [2005], approval for the use of this area as a disposal site was obtained verbally from Nicholas Scarr of Deaet [department of economic affairs, environment and tourism],” the scoping report states.

However it said in terms of the application to dredge the river itself, “the location of a suitable disposal site and method needs to be investigated”.

As evidence of ongoing approval to dispose of dredge spoils in the East Beach dunes, Ramhoa provided a letter from the municipality to Ramhoa dated January 2001, which states “permission (to discharge sand into the dunes) is granted for an indefinite period”.

However, being applicant for the 2007 ROD, the municipality would essentially be granting itself approval, in perpetuity, to dump dredge spoils in the dunes, if it follows Ramhoa’s line of reasoning.

This sounds like circular logic, and it warrants an investigation by Dedea to settle this matter.

– Jon Houzet

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