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DA calls for water quality testing as reports of contaminated water surface

According to the DA eThekwini residents have reported that certain reservoirs, namely the Birchwood and Virginia reservoirs, appear to carry contaminated water.

File picture. picture: Puri Devjee

Published Aug 4, 2022


Durban - Following reports revealing the extremity of E coli contamination in Durban rivers and some beaches, the DA in eThekwini has written to the municipality to request that water quality tests be conducted.

According to the DA, eThekwini residents have reported that certain reservoirs, namely the Birchwood and Virginia reservoirs, appear to carry contaminated water.

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High E coli levels have been registered at the uMngeni and Ohlanga rivers as well as at two beaches, according to water sampling tests taken last month, environmental conservation organisation, Adopt-a-River said.

Experts have warned that the elevated E coli levels were likely to have a health impact on the public should they swim in contaminated water.

Regarding the Birchwood and Virginia reservoirs, issue the DA said the Water and Sanitation Unit advised that the reservoirs in question were drained and testing would only be done once water was restored.

The DA in eThekwini said it wants to know from the head of Water and Sanitation, Ednick Msweli, and the head of Scientific Services, Sibongile Maqubela, why eThekwini allowed the situation to get to this point.

The DA has also raised questions regarding the persistent failure of the sewer systems, the compromised potable water quality and clarity on the actual state of water tankers across the city.

DA member of eThekwini Municipality Executive Committee, Yogiswarie Govender said eThekwini’s water and sanitation unit had been haemorrhaging for years and the city still seemed unfazed by this ecological and health disaster which plagues thousands of ratepayers.

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“Despite posturing that Durban is a world-class city, one has only to note the frequency of electricity outages, water stoppages, sewer spills and general filth in and around the municipality to know that it is a failed administration.”

She added that while the Constitution was very clear about the city’s legal obligations to provide access to water, many areas were not getting water tankers for two to seven days in contravention of their human rights.

Govender said the DA would continue its oversight role, holding city leadership and administration to account.

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The eThekwini Municipality had previously told The Mercury that water quality monitoring of the beaches was ongoing.

“So far the water quality of the beaches that were opened is sufficient. Beaches that are closer to the infrastructure that was affected by storm and not yet fixed were never opened, and as a precaution those beaches remain closed,” the municipality said.


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