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Residents pleased with sea defence work at Salt Whistle Bay

Residents pleased with sea defence work at Salt Whistle Bay
Placement of a combination of boulders and Geotextile material along the contour of the erosion at Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau.

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Mayreau residents are satisfied with the temporary emergency coastal protection works completed by Kelectric Company Ltd at Salt Whistle Bay, and are looking forward to the promised permanent solution.

Residents pleased with sea defence work at Salt Whistle Bay
Businessman Munro Forde

Businessman Munro Forde who, along with the Mayreau Regatta Committee, has been leading the community effort to see that the erosion at the world class Salt Whistle Bay is addressed, told Searchlight that Kelectric’s machinery and workers left two weeks ago, and it appears that they have finished.

According to a contract for the emergency coastal protection works, signed between the Government and Kelectric Company

We are hoping at some point in time a more permanent and attractive one would be put in place as they promised but definitely for now it would serve the purpose. Ltd on July 7 of this year, the work was scheduled to be completed on September 7.

“Completely a big difference. Once the defence was put in place, it completely slowed the force of the water from projecting,” Forde explained.

“As it is, it would work… as they say, it’s a temporary fix, while a more permanent one is being studied,” he commented. “We are hoping at some point in time a more permanent and attractive one would be put in place as they promised but definitely for now it would serve the purpose.”

During a sitting of Parliament on June 22, in providing an update on the situation at Salt Whistle Bay, Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves noted that $1.3 million had been allocated in the 2020 budget to address it. Government’s intention was to spend $300,000 this year, and $1 million in 2021.

A long-term solution, which involves reinforcing the natural reef, would take a long time. Nonetheless, the Minister said that tidal and bathymetric studies among other things are ongoing so as to devise “an optimal and attractive long term solution to the problem.”

Professionals visited the island on May 31 to determine a short-term solution, which they found would involve placement of a combination of boulders and geotextile material along the contour of the erosion.

There has been no stormy weather on the island recently to see how well the temporary protection works. Stormy activity was dreaded before the boulders were put in place, as it was the opinion of some that only one storm was needed for the isthmus to be lost to the sea.

While the Mayreau residents were not consulted before the temporary sea defence began, they are hoping for consultation when the state is ready to put a permanent solution in place.

“No one could explain what has actually transpired up there over the past years. No one would be able to do that better than us because we are the ones who were there and witnessed that deterioration from its start and up to now,” Forde stated.

The erosion was carefully monitored by the Mayreau residents over the years, many of whom earn their living by operating at the Salt Whistle Bay.

In fact, after the situation became very concerning to them, “Operation Save Salt Whistle” commenced in May, which saw a combined effort on the part of the community to place conch shells along the eroded area as a sort of natural barrier.

They were asked to cease this activity by the Minister when he spoke in Parliament on June 22, but not before hundreds of conch shells had been sourced from the nearby Grenadine islands.

Munro Forde said a GoFundMe account was set up by Nigel Forde, to which 32 donors gave US$3175. Of this, US$900 was used in the purchasing of gasoline, and nourishment for those involved in transporting conch shells to the area.

The rest of the funds are said to be still in the GoFundMe account, as the intention was to wait until the Government followed up on their promise. Suggestions are being made for the use of the rest of the funds in other areas where financial assistance is required on Mayreau.

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