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Concerns raised as E coli closes some Durban beaches

Dozens of holidaymakers seemed undeterred by visibly murky water at one of the Durban central beaches that were open yesterday. The eThekwini Municipality said that it had closed some Durban beaches on Friday after high levels of E coli were detected. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Dozens of holidaymakers seemed undeterred by visibly murky water at one of the Durban central beaches that were open yesterday. The eThekwini Municipality said that it had closed some Durban beaches on Friday after high levels of E coli were detected. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 10, 2022

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DURBAN - CONCERNS have been raised about the state of Durban’s beaches following the closure of six beaches on Friday due to high levels of the bacteria E coli.

The eThekwini Municipality announced on Friday that six beaches along the Durban beachfront would be closed – South Beach, North Beach, Bay of Plenty Beach, Suncoast Beach, Country Club Beach and Umgeni beaches.

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eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the decision to close the beaches was informed by “unacceptable levels of E coli in the aforesaid beaches”.

Mayisela said the level of bacteria had been compounded by the “unceasing vandalism of one of the city’s sewerage pump stations and abnormal heavy rains that are unceasingly washing waste from multitudes of informal settlements along the Umgeni River to the river”.

He said the municipality was doing everything in its power to get the E. coli levels to acceptable standards.

“The public will be apprised immediately once the situation is back to normalcy.”

The city said in a statement on Saturday that other central beaches remained open including Point Beach, Ushaka Beach, Addington Beach and Wedge Beach, along with beaches in the north and south of Durban.

DA councillor Nicole Graham said that she had written to eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda so that an executive committee meeting could be convened urgently.

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“All of the main Golden Mile beaches were closed on Friday after high levels of E coli were found in the water. The city’s press statement blamed ‘unceasing vandalism’ at a pump station. This is apparently the Johanna Road station in Sea Cow Lake, where illegal electrical connections have wrecked the facility.

“These result in constant surcharges into the stormwater system and thus the river. This has been going on for over 18 months and is hardly a new issue.”

Graham said that the executive committee needed to interrogate what was happening at the pump stations and why they kept malfunctioning.

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“One hundred and ten stations reportedly have no backup pump, so if the first pump fails, they overflow. Many pump stations that need generators do not have them and municipal infrastructure is old. This needs a way forward. The DA refuses to accept constant sewage spills, closed beaches and unhealthy communities as the norm.

“If eThekwini needs more money to fix these problems then a plan must be made.”

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said that it was unfortunate that the beach closures came at this time of the year.

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“Many people are spending time with their families and with the beach closures, they lose out on enjoying these Durban beaches. It is concerning that this could have been caused by negligence; the municipality must ensure that they get to the root cause of the E coli levels.”

Nkosi said that with the high E coli levels, he was also concerned about marine life. “It is worrying because we don’t want to see marine life die. I urge wildlife organisations to come to the party and work with the eThekwini Municipality.”

Nkosi added that fishermen would also be affected.

“Fishermen will not be able to fish and feed their families. The conditions will also not be safe for fishing.”

THE MERCURY

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