Cardiff Bay Barrage 2008

Hold back the tide.

Cardiff Bay is formed at the confluence of the Taff and Ely rivers. Just after joining and forming the bay, they spill into the Brisol Channel, the estuary of the River Severn. Being a tidal area, the bay would empty and fill twice each day, being used for pleasure boat trips at high tide, and serving the wading birds with the extensive mudflats at low tide. Humans, however, can be selfish. Low tide was deemed ugly, and prevented tourist boats from using the bay. Supposedly, this reduced the amount of tourism in the area relating to other local attractions.

Between 1994 and 1999, a barrage was built to keep the bay filled at all times, and aeration diffusers were added to avoid killing the various forms of aquatic life that needed the natural aeration of the tide. I feel very conflicted about this. I have to admit that it looks better, and sure, the non-wading birds wil thrive. But humans mess about enough with the environment already. Why can't we leave things alone? Why must we throw off the natural balance to satisfy our own asthetic tastes? Should we drive off wading birds and promote non-waders because we like their habitat better? What about the shellfish that live in the mudflats, the animals that rely on the salt from the tidal wash, or any of the other animals that I have just overlooked?

In any case, the barrage itself is a truly impressive feat of engineering, and it is the engineering we will see today.