‘Un­spe­ci­fic’ re­a­dings mar bet­ter es­tu­a­ry fi­gu­res

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad - Ya­seen Gaf­far

Wa­ter-qua­li­ty re­a­dings of the Knys­na es­tu­a­ry ta­ken last month at first glan­ce in­di­ca­te a gre­at im­pro­vement in the qua­li­ty of the wa­ter com­pa­red to three mont­hs ago – but so­me “un­spe­ci­fic” re­a­dings could in­di­ca­te a wor­rying de­cli­ne.

Ac­cor­ding to an up­da­te pu­blis­hed on 8 Oc­to­ber, es­tu­a­ry re­cre­a­ti­on points in­di­ca­te very low le­vels of E. co­li, which in­clu­des Bol­lard Bay at 12/100ml, The He­ads at 20/100ml and The Point at 7/100ml. The accep­ta­ble li­mit ac­cor­ding to the de­part­ment of wa­ter af­fairs is 500/100ml.

But Salt Ri­ver in­di­ca­tes the re­a­ding is >300/100ml (gre­a­ter than 300), which could me­an al­most any fi­gu­re, in­clu­ding that a­bo­ve 500.

Cul­vert me­a­su­re­ments show si­mi­lar un­spe­ci­fic re­a­dings.

Re­que­sted to ex­plain the con­fu­sing re­a­dings, Gar­den Rou­te Dis­trict Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty’s Health Ser­vi­ces sta­ted that the la­bo­ra­to­ry that un­der­ta­kes the a­na­ly­sis e­very month has been re­que­sted to gi­ve ex­act re­a­dings from now on, as in the past.

‘No re­a­son for im­pro­vement’

The ser­vi­ce said t­he­re is no par­ti­cu­lar re­a­son for the im­pro­ved re­a­dings. ‘’A wa­ter bo­dy can chan­ge at any par­ti­cu­lar ti­me,” its sta­te­ment said.

Health Ser­vi­ces al­so said that as the sum­mer ho­li­day ap­pro­a­ches, mo­re

fre­quent sam­pling will be un­der­ta­ken so that any sud­den pol­lu­ti­on can be ad­dres­sed and com­mu­ni­ca­ted to the pu­blic.

Ac­cor­ding to San­parks spo­kes­per­son Nan­di Mg­wad­lam­ba, this month their te­am will fol­low up to es­ta­blish ex­act­ly how much mo­re a­bo­ve 300/100ml was re­cor­ded for Oc­to­ber, and al­so sta­ted that not much can be do­ne a­bout last month’s re­a­dings.

She cla­ri­fied that E. co­li in na­tu­ral bo­dies of wa­ter can co­me from li­ves­tock, wild­li­fe or hu­mans, and is either shed di­rect­ly in­to the wa­ter or was­hed in­to it by rain­wa­ter, se­wera­ge or ot­her wa­ter flows.

‘Sy­stem can fluc­tu­a­te at any ti­me’

“The Knys­na es­tu­a­ry is a na­tu­ral sy­stem w­he­re le­vels of bacte­ria can fluc­tu­a­te at any ti­me,” she said, ad­ding that Knys­na is one of a few towns with an es­ta­blis­hed mul­tis­ta­ke­hol­der com­mit­tee to tackle pol­lu­ti­on in the es­tu­a­ry.

It was pre­vi­ous­ly re­por­ted that one of the big­ge­st cul­prits of pol­lu­ti­on in the Knys­na Es­tu­a­ry was the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty’s was­te­wa­ter tre­at­ment works (WWTW), which in­clu­des B­ren­ton-on Sea, Bel­vi­de­re, R­hee­nen­dal and Sed­ge­field.

The mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty e­ar­lier this y­e­ar re­cei­ved a war­ning from the We­stern Ca­pe de­part­ment of wa­ter and sa­ni­ta­ti­on, due to its al­le­ged fai­lu­re to ta­ke me­a­su­res to pre­vent pol­lu­ti­on.

The no­ti­ce sta­ted that “nu­me­rous cor­re­spon­den­ces … we­re sent to the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty re­gar­ding the con­tra­ven­ti­ons da­ting back to 2014 fol­lo­wing si­te in­specti­ons by both the de­part­ment and the B­ree­de-Gou­ritz Ca­t­chment Ma­na­ge­ment A­gen­cy (BGCMA)”.

‘Acti­on plan re­que­sted’

It al­so sta­tes that the last no­ti­ce of non­com­pli­an­ce da­ted 19 May 2015 was is­su­ed de­tailing the de­part­ment’s con­cerns o­ver po­ten­ti­al pol­lu­ti­on, and re­que­sted that the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty sub­mit a com­pre­hen­si­ve acti­on plan in re­spon­se to the con­cerns high­lig­h­ted.

“Mo­re re­cent si­te in­specti­ons at the a­fo­re­men­ti­o­ned si­tes con­ducted on 30 Au­gust 2017 con­fir­med that, with the ex­cep­ti­on of up­gra­des at Sed­ge­field WWTW, con­di­ti­ons a­cross the re­mai­ning WWTWs had either re­mai­ned the sa­me or had wor­se­ned.

Ba­sed on the fi­nal ef­flu­ent re­sults lo­a­ded on­to the de­part­ment’s G­reen Drop Sy­stem, Knys­na, Bel­vi­de­re, Sed­ge­field and R­hee­nen­dal WWTWs ha­ve con­sis­tent­ly fai­led to com­ply with fi­nal ef­flu­ent qua­li­ty stan­dards,” sta­tes the do­cu­ment.

De­part­ment spo­kes­per­son S­put­nik Ra­tau told KPH this week that mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty did fi­nal­ly sub­mit a plan.

The de­part­ment is con­si­de­ring the con­tent the­re­of and ha­ving dis­cus­si­ons re­gar­ding its fe­a­si­bi­li­ty, Ra­tau said.

‘Bar­king up the wrong tree’

But ac­cor­ding to che­mi­cal en­gi­neer John Bu­cha­nan, the­se at­tempts to recti­fy pol­lu­ti­on pro­blems con­sti­tu­tes bar­king up the wrong tree. “The o­ri­gi­nal cost for the WWTW was in the re­gi­on of R36mil­li­on,” he told KPH re­cent­ly. ‘’The mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty has now spent R80-mil­li­on and they are still going a­bout it the wrong way,” said Bu­cha­nan.

He ex­plai­ned that the tre­at­ment is in­cor­rect be­cau­se the “out­si­de con­sul­tants ap­poin­ted by the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty do not un­der­stand w­hat’s going on”.”The plant is just not wor­king,” he said.

Bu­cha­nan clai­med that he has of­fe­red his ex­per­ti­se to the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty sin­ce 2007, but has been con­ti­nu­ous­ly “shut do­wn”.

He told KPH this week that he is in the pro­cess of fi­na­li­sing a re­port on the con­di­ti­on of the Knys­na WWTW, to pre­sent to the Es­tu­a­ry Forum in co­ming weeks. He could not di­vul­ge de­tails be­fo­re that.

The mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty did not re­spond to que­s­ti­ons re­gar­ding the WWTW by the ti­me of going to print.

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