As I write this article on 4 November, one day after the latest Estuary forum, I’d like to take the liberty of predicting a few things regarding the upcoming breach of the Great Brak River mouth that will have taken place around 17 November.
By the time this article is published the Great Brak River mouth may indeed be closing or once again be closed. Unless we get heavy rain the closing of the mouth is inevitable. Despite efforts to improve the situation there will be complaints as well as accusations made and there will be opinions expressed by those who think that only their opinion is right. Ideas and suggestions that never seem to make it to the correct public participation channels will be expressed, and the opportunity for grandstanding will be seized. The municipality will be unfairly portrayed as the devil and the route of all evil. Yet come the next Estuary forum or public participation process, where an opportunity is provided to comment on the amendments to the Environmental Maintenance Management Plan (EMMP) or Mouth Management Plan, we will see those who are the loudest sit back, not get actively involved and wait for a saviour.
Whilst these frustrations may well be coming from those with genuine concern for the environment and getting the process right, it doesn’t actually help to simply sit on the side-lines and shout. More active involvement is needed. We have to educate ourselves as well as understand that the issues within the estuary are complex, and legislation and due process need to be followed. We also have to acknowledge and accept the realities of an open/closed estuarine system within the context of the current environment and understand how this impacts on our own expectations.
The status quo where those actively involved in the management of the estuary are seen as the sole problem by those who are apathetic is definitely not healthy. There are proposed changes and amendments to the EMMP that are currently being assessed that will hopefully allow things to be done differently during future artificial breaching efforts. Until then patience is required as procedures, legislation and process have to be followed, whether we like them and their outcomes or not. I would encourage all interested and affected parties to get actively involved and assume responsibility for the environment, as positive engagement via the correct channels will bear far better results than just complaining.
Photo: John Volkwyn