Zululand Observer - Monday

Probe into sewage concerns continues

- Reece Reid

THE City of uMhlathuze experience­d 548 sewage overflows from 1 January to 31 March, with high levels of E.coli found in local lakes.

This is according to a report recently discussed by the Infrastruc­ture Portfolio Committee, which indicates an extraordin­ary number of sewerage issues.

This includes 58 overflows in the Richards Bay area, 224 in eSikhaleni and surroundin­g areas, and 266 in the Empangeni area.

The report also indicated that the sewage that has been leaking into the natural water sources does not meet

Green Drop standards in a few categories.

One of these is in the treatment of E.coli - a bacteria found in the stomach and faeces; and another, Free Chlorine Residual, which shows whether or not wastewater has been treated.

The City of uMhlathuze received a dismal 22.8% compliance for its E.coli level, and 49.1% compliance for our Free Chlorine Residual level - an alarming rate considerin­g anything under 100% means non-compliance with regulation­s.

The majority of these spills also ended up polluting the surface water in two local lakes; Lake Mzingazi in Richards Bay and Lake Cubhu in eSikhaleni. Both showed non-compliance with the levels of E.coli.

Extremely high levels of E.coli were confirmed by private test results conducted by Jacques Blignaut, a health and safety consultant at Virotek, who took samples at various points from the tributary that flows through the Mzingazi Golf Estate and into the lake.

The amount of E.coli in a swimming beach, dam or lake should contain less than 400 E.coli/100ml, and any water released back into the environmen­t should contain less than 20 E.coli/100ml.

The three samples taken had 17 900 E.coli/100ml, 15 300 E.coli/100ml and 1 100 E.coli/100ml.

Directive

The City was in fact called into question by KZN Economic Developmen­t, Tourism and Environmen­tal Affairs (EDTEA).

They were issued a pre-directive on 29 November 2020 to solve the issue and failed to comply in the given time, which then led to a directive being issued.

Non-compliance with the directive could result in a fine of up to R10-million.

uMhlathuze Municipali­ty has not dealt with the matter with any obvious urgency and there is still a large amount of effluent flowing straight into the lake. The golf estate is not the only overflow that has not been attended to, however.

Harm Steenkamp of Garrick Rise has been consistent­ly dealing with sewage issues.

‘I have been smelling effluent leaking out of a manhole cover one metre from my gate for over 14 months. The municipali­ty attempted to fix it on multiple occasions, however, the repairs never lasted long. The problem is at the pumps.'

EDTEA visited Steenkamp's residence after a previous article published in the ZO.

Sias van Schalkwyk of Honeysuckl­e road in Veldenvlei, whose property borders on a swampy area, said, ‘Every time it has rained heavily for the past 12 years, we have had sewage overflow out of our manhole cover, directly into the swamp which in turn leads to the lake.’

EDTEA visited Van Schalkwyk's residence on 17 June to assess the sewage issues in Honeysuckl­e.

An inside source involved in supplying the municipali­ty with equipment has claimed that the majority of the staff who work on the pump stations are incompeten­t and are unable to understand the fact that the sewerage pipes cannot cope under the city’s load and need to be replaced.

The only way forward seems to be an audit conducted on the uMhlathuze Municipali­ty sewerage system, before Lake Mzingazi and other natural bodies of water are polluted far beyond repair, killing all the natural fauna and flora.

'The ongoing sewage problem is the result of the implosion of infrastruc­ture within the city. These issues have been caused by mechanical breakdowns, design failures and an overloaded system.

'If no urgent action is taken by the municipali­ty, the responsibl­e officials must face criminal charges,' said ward councillor Henning de Wet.

High E.coli levels from 548 sewage overflows

 ?? Photo: Reece Reid ?? The body of polluted water outside Honeysuckl­e street
Photo: Reece Reid The body of polluted water outside Honeysuckl­e street

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