High tide due to drop in beach level, says City official

The City says the difficulty in walking along this stretch of coast between Ons Huisie and Big Bay Beach is not attributed to rising tides.

It has become impossible to walk along the beachfront at Ons Huisie due to the high tides, but the City of Cape Town says this is not due to rising tides but rather to the beach level there falling.

Bennie Pienaar and his wife, Tracy, park their car opposite Doodles on the beachfront regularly to take a stroll on the beach towards Big Bay.

But now when they reach the beach at Ons Huise, they find it swamped.

“Before we could walk on the beach past Ons Huisie. Now we have to take one of the back roads around Ons Huisie to get back to the beach,” said Mr Pienaar.

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said climate change might be causing sea levels to rise, but it wasn’t to blame for the disappearing beach between Ons Huisie and Big Bay Beach.

The rise in sea levels from climate change, she said, was “negligible”, estimated at 1.7mm a year in the Western Cape.

“This means that over the last 10 years, sea levels have risen by approximately 1,7 cm in the Western Cape. While the high tide mark may appear further inland and the beach may appear narrower, this is due to the beach level dropping along this stretch of coast through the loss of sand to the sea,” said Ms Little.

The sand was being lost for several reasons, she said, and some related to “complex interactions between dynamic coastal processes that are not clearly understood”.

The massive storm surge that pummelled Cape Town’s coast on Wednesday June 7 had stripped a lot of sand from the beaches, she said.

About 10m of the beach and dune cordon had been lost to the storm at the Ons Huisie site, but Ms Little said the City had been doing beach rehabilitation in the Big Bay area and it was expected to be finished soon.