The Mercury

River pollution traced to city water treatment works

- Tony Carnie

THE source of the sewage pollution in the uMdloti River has been traced to the eThekwini municipali­ty’s treatment works in Verulam.

Responding to queries from The Mercury yesterday, city officials blamed a contractor who was reclaiming old, digested sludge from the Verulam sewage treatment works.

Over the past three weeks, several residents had complained about foul smells and pollution flowing towards the main beach at eMdloti.

A spokesman for the city’s water and waste department said: “The consistenc­y of the sludge at the centre stock pile was still fluid, which caused the stockpile wall to collapse – allowing sludge into the river.

“The amount which escaped was underestim­ated by the contractor. Subsequent sampling and clearing of the bush revealed a much larger problem.”

Officials said that the contractor would now bear the cost of the clean-up and rehabilita­tion work, but no mention was made of possible criminal charges under the Water Act.

“Monitoring of the river continues and the uMdloti lagoon, as of this morning, was still in a good condition,” said the spokesman.

But resident Danie Rademeyer said he was disappoint­ed that it had taken so long to identify and remedy the problems, which he had noticed as early as September 12.

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