DURBAN: The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance has slammed the eThekwini Municipality for allegedly purposefully releasing raw sewage into the Cuttings Beach near Merebank which has forced the closure of the popular beach.
This after fishermen and bathers at the beach, which is also used for religious rituals, complained of a stench at the weekend which was traced to raw sewage being released from a nearby wastewater treatment site.
The eThekwini Municipality, however, said it had to re-issue the beach closure advisory to residents at the weekend after heavy rains had caused the bypass of effluent into the beach which could not be contained in the three tanks in the Southern Wastewater Treatment Works.
The municipality said that Cuttings Beach was closed since September last year due to the tie in of the new beach section of the sea outfall pipeline.
“The signs for the beach closure were in place, but it was discovered that they were removed while they were not supposed to have been removed. Hence, the advisory was issued to warn residents on Saturday,” eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said.
The alliance’s Desmond D’Sa accused the municipality of lying, saying that the construction of the sea-outfall pipe had been complete and that the beach had been opened for months.
He accused the municipality of releasing the valves at the wastewater treatment works and “dumping” the sewage in the the sea.
“We are concerned about the livelihoods of our fishermen, the people who come here to pray, and our ocean,” he said.
“The municipality is lying when they say the beach has been closed to the public because for months now, people have been using it and fishing here. There is no reason to close the beach if they have stop construction of the sea-outfall pipe. We have taken two samples of what was released into the water and have sent it to the labs for testing. We will call a press conference once those results come back,” D’Sa said.
D’Sa returned to the beach on Tuesday and said that while the water had cleared up, there was still a “big stench”.
Mayisela said the release of the effluent into the sea was “normal practice”.
“It is allowed by the Coastal Waters Discharge Permit issued to EWS by Environmental Affairs subject to compliance with the requirements of the permit and the effluent is discharged straight to the sea via a sea outfall pipeline. If there is an overspill due to heavy rains in the process, authorities, the public and our pollution team engage on the management plan to mitigate the overspill. Please note that during these occurrences the City will always move with speed to notify residents so as to ensure their safety,” he said.