Development and implementation of a monitoring programme for South African estuaries
This study designed and implemented a national estuarine monitoring programme for South African estuaries. The National Water Act (Act No. 36 of 1998) mandates the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to undertake monitoring for the protection of water resources. Monitoring also forms an integral component of estuarine management plans which are a requirement of the Integrated Coastal Management Act (Act No. 24 of 2008). The design of the programme was based on a review of international best practice, a critical evaluation of existing national monitoring programmes implemented by DWS and workshop input from a group of national experts. The National Estuary Monitoring Programme has three tiers. Tier 1 focuses on basic data, Tier 2 makes use of the methods used for determining estuarine freshwater inflow requirements, and Tier 3 is usually of a short temporal scale and dependent on the issue at hand, such as a sewage spill or fish kill. Tier 1 monitoring commenced on 21 priority estuaries between 2012 and 2014 in collaboration with government conservation authorities, conservation forums and local and district municipalities. Available financial and human resources guided the selection of the priority estuaries. Analysis of the implementation of the programme showed that collaboration between all relevant role-players was central to the successes achieved during the first 3 years of the programme and will continue to be critical for the success of the programme, although funding remains a challenge.
Keywords: estuaries, South Africa, monitoring, National Estuarine Monitoring Programme, collaboration.