Fixing Salt Whistle Bay erosion should be a priority (+Video)
by Bria King
Fixing the erosion of the land by the Atlantic Ocean at Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau should be a priority for this country’s government.
This is the opinion of some Mayreau residents, including Munro Forde, who is a part of the “Save Our Salt Whistle Bay” initiative.
“At some point in time, we are looking for them to come here and do what they are supposed to do. It should be a priority. Salt Whistle Bay is considered to be within the boundaries of the [Tobago Cays] Marine Park, it should be a protected area,” Forde told SEARCHLIGHT on Saturday, May 30.
Government officials, including a number of engineers visited the famous beach on May 30 to observe the erosion taking place and discuss various temporary methods that can be utilised until a permanent solution can be found.
However, some residents do not believe that enough attention is being paid to the issue as it has been happening for years with no real action on the part of the government to fix it.
Forde said that the Salt Whistle Bay erosion is only one of several projects that the current administration has promised to address on the island but residents are yet to see results.
“When it comes to the Grenadines, the Grenadines people know how it is when it comes to government response.
We’re always slow to get things done and at some point in time, sometimes we don’t even get it done,” the businessman said.
Forde, and several other Mayreau residents have recently started collecting conch shells to pack onto the eroded side of the bay so as to slow the erosion process, in the hopes that the government will step in with a more permanent solution.
He told SEARCHLIGHT that residents cannot afford for the Atlantic Ocean to separate the land and destroy Salt Whistle Bay in the process, as many people rely on the bay for an income.
Cecil Harris, the senior engineer was among the group of engineers that visited the Grenadines last weekend.
Harris described the conch shells as “an extremely cosmetic intervention”, noting that they are not big enough to significantly slow the rate of erosion taking place.
“What you really need is sizeable boulders resting on something, a geotextile fabric — it’s a special engineering cloth, very tough, on which you place these boulders and this cloth also prevents the sand from seeping out from behind the boulders,” he explained.
The civil engineer said that in this way, boulders take the force of the wave while the geotextile cloth protects the fine material and prevents further erosion from taking place.
Harris expressed his understanding of the importance of Salt Whistle Bay as one of this country’s economic drivers as it relates to tourism and said that “we really don’t want to lose it”.
“You’re trying to save jobs, you’re trying to save the beautiful environment that Salt Whistle Bay is and provides, and of course, it’s a national treasure, it’s part of the Tobago Cays…”he said.
He told SEARCHLIGHT that the government was already taking action as it relates to addressing the erosion issue and have been working on getting funding for the design of the project.
The senior engineer said however that the design could take up to six months to complete and at least another three months to tender the project.
“It wouldn’t be for another year at least that you would see something substantial happening here,” Harris said.