iSimangaliso to remove Lake St Lucia dredger spoil

Its been a year since the last update on my site and this time with even better news. Isimangaliso has now made it official, after a few months of hear-say, that plans are to remove the dredger spoil creating a barrier between the St Lucia Estuary and the Imfolozi River Mouth.

This is great news for not only fish stocks in St Lucia, but most of South Africa due to the fact that St Lucia is currently the biggest estuary in Southern Africa. St Lucia estuary plays a major role in providing protection and breeding grounds to many of our local fish populations and I hope that by returning it to its former state that fish stocks in the area and across the South African coastline will pick up. This especially after the decline not only noticed by Scientists but also myself in my years fishing the area.

Here is a snippet of the newsflash issued by Isimangaliso Wetland Park a few days ago:

Work to remove a portion of the artificially created ‘island’ of sand in the Lake St Lucia mouth area will begin in 2015. This follows the completion of iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) study aimed at finding long term solutions to improve the hydrological and ecological functioning of the Lake St Lucia system.

In July 2012 iSimangaliso implemented its strategy to let the uMfolozi River rejoin the Lake St Lucia system in a bid to restore the functioning of South Africa’s largest estuarine system. Since 1952 the uMfolozi River has been kept separate from the Lake St Lucia system, reducing freshwater inflow to the system and interfering with natural functioning of the mouth. Based on new scientific findings, the rejoining of the uMfolozi River with its flow of fresh water into the lake is an important first step towards the restoration of estuarine function.

iSimangaliso’s GEF-funded study shows that the sand and spoil placed in the estuary mouth area by dredgers over a 50-year period continues to impede the flow of the uMfolozi River into the Lake St Lucia system, reinforcing their separation. A geotechnical survey completed in November 2014 has provided information on the size, moisture content and roughness of the soil and other material in the pile of dredger spoil in order to finalise the method to be used for the removal of the sand pile. Work will begin with the current budget for restoration.

Says iSimangaliso’s CEO, Mr Andrew Zaloumis, “iSimangaliso, with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, is striving to recreate the wholeness of nature and to strengthen Lake St Lucia’s resilience.”

“Lake St Lucia was effectively drying up and the system degrading. New science confirmed the importance of allowing the system to function as naturally as possible by allowing the uMfolozi River’s fresh water to rejoin the Lake St Lucia estuary. “

“Since the uMfolozi River rejoined Lake St Lucia in 2012 there have been compelling indications of ecosystem recovery – this despite receiving lower winter and spring rainfall. Lake and salinity levels are well within the range tolerated by estuarine plants and animals.”

iSimangaliso to remove Lake St Lucia dredger spoil

The Lake St Lucia system has weathered the winter of 2014 well, poised for further improvements of ecological health with the onset of summer and its expected rainfall. As we move from the drier winter to wetter summer changes to the adjacent wetlands, grasslands and forests are obvious with the greening of the vegetation and emergence of spring bulbs. In the lake there are also subtle changes in water and salinity levels, and in the position and appearance of the mouth area which, is shaped by the amount of water flowing in the river, the tidal exchange and wave action.

For the entire newsflash please visit their page here: http://isimangaliso.com/newsflash/isimangaliso-to-remove-lake-st-lucia-dredger-spoil/

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