READER LETTER | Urgent need for car wash regulations at beachfront
East London’s beachfront, a serene coastal gem offering picturesque views, has long been a cherished destination for tourists and locals.
However, the unchecked proliferation of car washing businesses on the Esplanade has raised pressing concerns that extend beyond aesthetics, with potentially severe implications for public health and the environment.
This issue requires a comprehensive examination, including the environmental consequences of car washing runoff on stormwater drainage systems and coastal waters.
The normalisation of car washing on the beachfront, especially adjacent to the East London ICC has given rise to unsightly conditions.
The resulting foul-smelling runoff is not only an affront to our senses but poses a direct threat to the pristine coastal waters into which it eventually flows.
A recent study, Cultivable Bacterial Diversity, Physicochemical Profiles, and Toxicity Determination of Car Wash Effluents, conducted by Beauclair Nguegang, Timothy Sibanda and Memory Tekere, underscores the seriousness of this issue.
The study reveals that car wash effluents contain potentially toxic chemicals and microbiological pollutants that, when allowed to drain into the sea, can pose severe public health and environmental threats.
This situation warrants our immediate attention and intervention as these pollutants can have dire consequences for coastal waters, aquatic life and the overall health of the ecosystem.
To address this growing concern, we must urgently advocate for the implementation of stringent bylaws regulating car wash businesses operating in environmentally sensitive areas such as the beachfront.
The municipality, in its ongoing efforts to ensure cleanliness and environmental health, must prioritise the protection of our coastal waters.
While entrepreneurship is integral to community growth, it should never come at the cost of public health, environmental preservation and the sustainability of our precious coastal environment.
A comprehensive regulatory framework is needed to address several key aspects of car wash businesses in environmentally sensitive areas. Some of the main issues to note are:
- The municipality should clearly designate zones where car washing is and is not permissible. This will help prevent the establishment of car wash businesses in areas close to coastal waters and storm drainage systems;
- Car wash businesses seeking to operate near environmentally sensitive areas should be required to undergo an environmental impact assessment;
- Strict regulations should be put in place to ensure car wash businesses treat effluent before discharging it into drainage systems;
- The municipality should conduct regular inspections of car wash businesses to ensure compliance with environmental regulations;
- It is crucial to raise awareness among car owners and the public about the environmental consequences of unregulated car washing; and
- Establish a comprehensive monitoring system for coastal waters to assess the impact of car wash runoff on water quality. This data can guide regulatory efforts and ensure the protection of our precious coastal environment.
The beachfront, once an idyllic retreat, is now threatened by the unchecked proliferation of car washing businesses.
This issue must be addressed urgently through the implementation of rigorous bylaws and comprehensive regulations, for the wellbeing of our community and the preservation of our pristine coastal waters.
Let us act collectively to restore the splendour of our beloved East London beachfront and safeguard the ecological health of our coastal waters.
- Zihle Mantashe, men’s health activist
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