‘Baynespruit not fit for use’

2010-11-25 00:00

THE poor water quality of the Baynespruit River near Sobantu has raised concern among local emerging farmers, who say the water quality has deteriorated to the point where they cannot use it for irrigation.

This has been noted by recent water quality reports released by Umgeni Water, which deems the river unsuitable for use.

Umgeni tests the water every month.

In its report, Umgeni said the Baynespruit was polluted mostly with high E.coli counts, turbidity (mud), elevated nutrients and organic carbon concentrations from the catchments, as well as industrial and waste water effluent discharges from the dumping of chemical waste and sewage.

The partly-commercial farmers from the Sobantu Farmers Development Association said that for the past few years Umgeni Water has forbidden them from irrigating their vegetables with the water as the river is contaminated with unacceptably high levels of the E.coli bacteria.

E.coli are bacteria found in the colon of human beings and animals. They constitute a serious contaminant when found in food or in the water supply.

Farmer Dennis Mncwabe blames the reckless behaviour of the community and businesses operating close to the river.

“Previously, you would find that the companies had dumped their waste in the river and the water then turned green.”

“On many occasions we find that the water is polluted with solid waste, chemicals from the companies nearby, house refuse and many other things that should not be in the water.”

The Witness went to the river yesterday and, despite the rains these past few days, the river appears dirty and is littered with paper, plastic, tins, and logs.

The stench of sewage hung over the river.

Mncwabe said the situation is costing a fortune in production.

“We can no longer produce all year round because we cannot use the river for irrigation. To irrigate our plants we have to rely on the water coming from the mountain, which means we have to prioritise when irrigating.”

Andrew Booth from the Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) said the water quality of the river was deteriorating badly.

“The moment there is sewage spillage into the river, that water can no longer be used to irrigate vegetables.”

Booth called for more vigilant care of the river by communities in the area.

The Msunduzi Municipality, which is allegedly supposed to maintain the river, was reached for comment, but had not responded by the time of going to press.

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