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Clare Estate residents in panic after drinking water mixes with sewage

Clare Estate residents complain following increase in water contamination. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Clare Estate residents complain following increase in water contamination. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Published Apr 11, 2023


Durban — Panic-stricken Clare Estate residents have had their water supply normalised after it was contaminated briefly with sewage because of pipe damage on Saturday.

eThekwini Municipality ward 23 councillor Alicia Kissoon said community leaders in Clare Estate had reported an increasing number of residents becoming ill after drinking tap water. Kissoon said the incident occurred while repairs were being undertaken to the water infrastructure in the area, and the freshwater pipeline became exposed to a sewage overflow.

“Notwithstanding the seriousness of the situation, the municipality failed to inform the community of the potential hazards.

“Instead, they continued to downplay the situation and insisted that the water quality was suitable for human consumption,” said Kissoon.

Kissoon requested the results from a water quality test which revealed that E. coli levels were in excess of 200% above the normal acceptable levels.

“This is yet another example highlighting the sanitation crisis the municipality is facing. Daily across the city, there are scores of sewer leaks and overflows on the streets and in our rivers. The eThekwini Municipality must take full responsibility for this, and residents who were affected by this serious incident are requested to contact me urgently,” said Kissoon.

Kissoon encouraged residents to refrain from drinking tap water until further quality tests had been conducted.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Lindiwe Khuzwayo said the municipality could confirm that there was an incident where a tractor, loader and backhoe (TLB) damaged some pipes. As a result, the water was contaminated.

“Samples were taken and confirmed high levels of E. coli. Our teams attended to the repairs. Samples that were taken last Thursday were clear. No E. coli and total coliform were detected,” Khuzwayo said.

Pete Graham, CEO of Singakwazi Aid, a water purification public benefit organisation, said he was shattered by the Clare Estate incident. There should be multiple checks to make sure this does not occur again in Clare Estate or elsewhere in the KwaZulu-Natal, he said.

“If there is a burst water pipe, there will be an excavation and the pipe will be left exposed and there will be someone there to monitor.

“If sewage is running down the road, it cannot go anywhere near a potable water line. If there is any suspected contamination, the system needs to be shut off, tests need to be done and remedial action must be taken,” said Graham.

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