Coast KZN

24 Sep 2020

Over-pumping of sand on Vetch’s to cease

Lauren Walford (Berea Mail) Picture: Councillor Nicole Graham on Vetch's Beach.

Alleged over-pumping of sand onto Vetch’s Beach, and subsequently Vetch’s Reef, are likely to be a thing of the past with the re-commissioning of the council sand pumping scheme. This comes after Councillor Nicole Graham, Democratic Alliance (DA) eThekwini caucus leader, and Councillor Gavin Hegter, met with city officials on Friday to find out what progress has been made regarding the sand pumping scheme, which has been an ongoing issue.

Speaking about sand pumping, Graham said there were three methods used for pumping sand onto Durban’s beaches, firstly the Council and Transnet – owned hopper maintenance scheme, which can pump as far as North Beach, secondly where sand is pumped directly in a floating pipeline through the surf onto the beach from dredgers offshore, and thirdly, when sand is pumped directly from dredgers berthed in the harbour onto the beaches between Vetch’s and Addington.

“This last type of sand pumping has led to the dispute as to whether or not too much sand has been pumped onto Vetch’s. The City commissioned a study into the effect on this.  However, fundamentally, there is the need to minimise pumping large quantities of sand in a short period directly from the dredger onto this beach all the time, as it is not always necessary, and it is having a negative impact to an extent on marine life,” she said.

Graham said, effectively there is reportedly going to be less sand pumped onto Vetch’s beach, as the pumps and motors which run the council’s sand pumping system, have been upgraded and should be ready to work as they used to, right up to Booster station 4, which is the pump house at North Beach.

“They are now waiting on water and sand from the Transnet hopper to continue commissioning all the equipment in the booster stations. However, all maintenance has been carried out and the system is currently working with sand being able to reach up to Dairy Beach,” she said, adding that if there is an oversupply of sand by Transnet, this will be dumped back out to sea.

Graham said there is now also a 900 m diameter pipe buried in the beach in front of Addington Hospital, which never previously used to be in existence, that is connected directly from the dredger berthed at the harbour hopper station, so sand can be pumped onto Addington Beach.

“There should also be less sand pumped in the basin area around Moyo Pier, which will assist the uShaka Marine World in terms of being able to draw water for the aquarium. The pier was apparently designed to be longer than it is, with the water extraction system further out to sea but was shortened due to cost constraint issues. The ideal plan would be to make it longer, but this is quite a serious financial commitment. With there being less sand in the area, hopefully the ability to draw more water, which is effectively needed for uShaka Marine World, will be improved, and might hold off the need for the pier extension for some time,” she said.

Graham said she and Hegter were pleased that there had been some progress. “With less sand being dumped onto Vetch’s, this is a win, and is what everyone has been after for a long time,” she said.