Public Eye (South Africa)

E. coli levels a concern

- Khethukuth­ula Xulu

EThekwini Municipali­ty has closed beaches with elevated E. coli levels and continues to re-sample and monitor them.

The city took this precaution­ary step after the latest results from the joint sampling of beach water quality showed that there were alarming levels of E. coli in six beaches and three rivers tested on December 7.

The joint sampling was done by ethekwini Municipali­ty with Adopt-a-river, a non-profit organisati­on whose samples are tested by Talbot, an independen­t laboratory.

The six closed beaches are Point, Ushaka, South, North, Battery and Country Club. These are six of Durban’s main beaches that attract tourists and swimmers from all over the country.

Over the weekend, thousands of beachgoers crowded these beaches unaware of the alarming levels of E. coli. This weekend (December 16 -17), is also expected to attract thousands of swimmers as it has become a tradition for many people who live in the inland areas.

According to the municipali­ty, the latest results show higher-than-normal E. coli levels.

Acceptable E. coli levels should be under 500, worryingly the Country Club beach tested above 24 000 while the river at Kingfisher Canoe Club tested at a disturbing

1,2 million. The high levels of E. coli have been attributed to the heavy rainfall, which according to the city, washes pollution from rivers, streams and stormwater systems into the ocean.

Durban has experience­d several days of heavy rainfall since last week, which has also led to the postponeme­nt of some outdoor events, said ethekwini.

The municipali­ty said it was normal to have poor water quality when heavy rains batter the city. It highlighte­d that the rains result in pollution, including foreign objects, washing from rivers and streams as well as other water sources into the ocean.

“The beaches with poor water quality have been closed while re-sampling and monitoring of the beaches continue.

“The repairs and maintenanc­e of sanitation infrastruc­ture is also ongoing. Significan­t improvemen­t has been made following the extensive flood damage,” said the municipali­ty.

The results have changed drasticall­y from the results released previously. However, they do confirm concerns raised by opposition parties, particular­ly Actionsa, that some beaches in the province were not yet safe to swim in.

Durban residents took to Facebook to share their concerns about the water quality.

Michael Hirsch said: “Not once do you mention it is also a result of poorly maintained infrastruc­ture in terms of sewerage pump stations not working efficientl­y.

“When are you going to finally tell the residents, who continue to pay rates, the truth? You cannot blame rivers entirely for this mess … wake up ethekwini Municipali­ty.”

Responding to Hirsch, Diane Laas said: “They will never admit because that highlights the incompeten­ce and lies ...”

Another Facebook user, Anele Anele, was adamant that people will swim regardless of the results.

“We are going, we don’t care if it is poor or excellent. We used to swim in the river and no one tested the water.”

Adopt-a-river founder Janet Simpkins, said: “We feel very strongly that residents and visitors should check the latest beach readings and take precaution­s if there has been rainfall.”

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 ?? ?? ethekwini has closed six beaches due to poor water quality
ethekwini has closed six beaches due to poor water quality

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