A Durban kayaker claims raw sewerage is flowing into the Umgeni River. Picture screen grab

Durban - For more than a month kayakers utilising the Umgeni River for training purposes have complained about a nauseating smell and human waste floating in the river between the N2 and the Connaught Interchange bridges in Durban North. 

On Friday, a disgruntled Kayaker, posted a video on the Save Our Rivers ZA multimedia platforms to highlight the level of sewerage in the Umgeni River. 

He wrote on Facebook,"Don’t think you’re safe EThekwini Municipality no spill here yet but your failing sewerage pump station upstream of Connaught Bridge regularly pollutes our Tourism KwaZulu-Natal Blue Lagoon attraction."

The kayaker whose has not been named said in the video that a damaged pump or pipe has not been replaced in weeks. 

"Human waste has been floating in the river. On Thursday we paddled up the same river and saw tampons, sanitary pads, condoms as well as nappies. What you can see is human waste. So all of this stuff is all turds.. excuse the use of the word. There is nothing more I can say about it. The stench is unbearable. This place is uninhabitable even for natural wildlife which are dwindling. A few dead fish I have seen when paddling up ....shows there is a decline in the eco-system of this area that us human beings are allowing to be pumping into the river system,"the kayaker said.

A disgruntled kayaker claims that there is raw sewerage flowing into the Umgeni River in Durban. Video source Save Our Rivers ZA

The Daily News had sent email to the eThekwini municipality on Monday, August 5 requesting feedback on the allegations made by another kayaker who had been training with his son but none was forthcoming. 

The pollution video received some responses on Facebook. Below are some of the reactions. 

Duncan May said, "I also have photos from another Facebook page of the municipality pumping raw sewerage into the storm water drains."

Janet Simpkins said, "....please feel free to share this kind of municipal neglect here. You are helping to log visual evidence."

On Thursday the Daily News also highlight the plight residents living in Umhlatuzana River had been experiencing.  

Durban wastewater from a blocked drain has been flowing into the Umhlatuzana River, south of Durban, for nearly five months and, despite the city receiving a directive from its Water and Sanitation Department.

Samantha Windvogel, eThekwini ward 65 DA councillor, felt residents were bearing the brunt of service delivery problems. She said the matter had been reported to eThekwini Municipality’s water and sanitation division in March.

“The streams in Bottlebrush/Piet Retief/Kharwastan (Heron Street)/Umhlatuzana and Seaview have had sewer waste flowing into them since floods in April. There is sewer waste overflowing into the road at the corner of Titren and Marnevale roads, Seaview, and eThekwini sanitation department states it is experiencing major challenges and backlogs.”

Windvogel had taken up the matter with the provincial Water and Sanitation Department, which had issued a directive to city manager Sipho Nzuza, in terms of the National Water Act (NWA): failing to take reasonable measures to contain or prevent a situation which causes pollution of a water resource from continuing.

The department, in an email responding to Windvogel’s complaint, said the directive was issued because of the sewage overflow emanating from Bottlebrush and Kharwastan areas, discharging into the tributary of the Umhlatuzana River and, as a result, into the Durban Harbour, which was posing a risk to human health and well-being.

The department said it had been notified of the sewage overflow into a tributary of the Umhlatuzana River, from a property near Heron Street, in Kharwastan, on June 19.

It forwarded an email to the municipality on the same day, requesting that the complaint be investigated and responded to.

On June 24, the department conducted a site inspection and found raw sewage in the stream near Heron Street. Samples were taken from the stream and dangerously high levels of E. coli were recorded. The department again conducted a site inspection on July 3. Again raw sewage was observed. The department stated that a manhole and displaced pipe were also discharging raw sewage downstream of the Bottlebrush area, and upstream of Heron Street, at the time of the inspection.

In its directive, Water and Sanitation provincial head Ashley Starkey told Nzuza to:

* Stop the sewage being discharged into the tributary of the Umhlatuzana River, near Bottlebrush and Heron Street, within two working days;

* Appoint an independent environmental assessment practitioner (EAP) or engage internal relevant expertise to assess the extent of environmental damage caused, within seven working days;

* Compile a rehabilitation and remediation plan to be submitted to the department for approval prior to being implemented, and a monitoring report monthly, thereafter, for six months.

eThekwini spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the municipality had received the directive regarding the Umhlatuzana issue. 

“We responded accordingly. There is currently a contractor on site repairing the 600mm diameter elevated sewer. We are also in the process of appointing an aquatic environmental specialist to carry out remedial work to the river. These were as per the conditions in the directive from the Department of Water and Sanitation,” Mayisela said.

Daily News