The Green TLC Wednesday message: Know your Coast

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The natural beauty of South Africa is something we are very proud of, and we hope that in time, in a post-Covid19 world, tourists will flock back to our beaches. Many of us who are blessed to live along the coastline of South Africa, give thanks every day for this wonderful gift. But a recently released 5-year study of a number of favourite Atlantic coast and False Bay coastal sites revealed some concerning facts.

Atlantic Coast – the red slice of the pie shows consistently poor water quality readings.

The False Bay coastline is, even more, subject to poor water quality. Many of these sites are Blue Flag beaches. How is that possible?

The document explains that Blue Flag beach water is quality tested a month before summer starts, and then regularly during the summer months when beach use is at its peak. Cape Town being a winter rainfall area, the lack of rain during these months actually works in favour of the water quality because it is during the rainy season that many of the stormwater pipes overflow, causing seepage of bacteria into our oceans. This is worrying news for those of us who enjoy the beaches in all weather, during all seasons!

The report says: “Beaches that do not have stormwater outlets or are far away from river mouths, usually have “good” or “excellent” water quality.” But fewer than half the beaches tested fell into this category. The report highlights the source of urban pollutants on the coastline; – waste generated by residents, business and visitors; and – waste via the stormwater system and rivers on nearshore coastal water quality. Urban sprawl and increased informal housing settlements are important contributors.

What can we do? Always take your litter home with you, and when you do visit the beach or any natural venue, take a pair of gloves and a spare packet so you can spend just a few minutes cleaning up. This Earth is our home and we must all take responsibility for keeping her clean.

- The Green Teaching and Learning Community