E.coli threat to blue flag beach

2014-12-28 14:26

Water quality at Cape Town beaches may be getting worse because of sewage pumped into the sea.

The water quality at Clifton beach, which has Blue Flag status, and other beaches around the Cape Peninsula, may have an elevated E.coli count, according to Professor Edda Weimann of the University of Cape Town, the Sunday Times reported.

There were several sewage stations on the peninsula coastline that pump sewage into the sea.

“Only debris and larger particles are filtered out,” the newspaper quoted Weimann as saying.

Weimann has been monitoring Clifton and noted the yellow foam and bad smell. Last week she photographed pollution at Grotto Beach in Hermanus – another Blue Flag beach – and dead seals on Pearly Beach and Die Dam.

“Foam and yellowish colouring of sand was associated with elevated E.coli counts,” she wrote in an ecology journal.

Blue Flag status is an international award for beaches with excellent safety and cleanliness, according to the Wildlife and Environmental Society of SA.

The society’s Morgan Griffiths told the newspaper that the beaches were safe. Water was tested every two weeks, and Clifton tests this week did show slightly elevated E.coli levels.

However, a test sample the following day showed the water was clean.

“The public does not need to be stressed that they are swimming in sewage water. They are swimming in some of the cleanest and independently tested seawater,” Griffiths said.

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