Dusi Marathon: Water quality still ‘not great’

2013-02-07 00:00

WITH just a week before the Unlimited Dusi Marathon, Dave Still, Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) chairperson, describes the water quality on the river as “not great”.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Still said the median of four sites through town on the Duzi at the moment was roughly 10 000 parts of E. Coli bacteria per 100 ml, which is higher than they would like.

He said a good quality would be a level of 2 000 E.Coli. However, Still said with the clean water being released from Henley Dam next week, the quality should improve significantly.

He said three factors would affect the quality of water by the start of the race.

“One is the state of the Darvill sewage works and in particular whether the storm buffer dam is empty, full or overflowing.

“The second is the weather forecast, and the third is the state of Pietermaritzburg’s sewer network,” he said, noting that Darvill was working well and the storm buffer dam was empty.

He said a concern at the moment was that all three of the Duzi’s main tributaries in Maritzburg — Slangspruit, Dorpspruit and Baynespruit — were showing signs of serious contamination.

“In the case of the Baynespruit and the Slangspruit, this has been going on for several months without any improvement, which is most discouraging,” Still said.

He said Duct would like the Department of Water Affairs to put in place a system whereby municipalities were fined for polluting their rivers, using the “polluter pays” principle that was built into the law.

“If such a system could be implemented, it might see a city such as Pietermaritzburg paying several million rands in fines each year until they clean up their act. That might focus their attention nicely, and frankly, I don’t know what else will,” Still added.

Sampling was done by Duct and Umngeni Water.

Meanwhile, Umngeni Water yesterday confirmed the release of 35 cumecs (cubic metres of water per second) of water for the final stage of the Unlimited Dusi, setting the stage for the fullest final stage for many years.

The release from Inanda Dam into Durban will see this year’s race end with big water on the lower Umgeni River.

However, residents have been cautioned to be aware of the planned water release.

Fifteen cumecs will be released from Henley Dam starting at 7 am on February 13.

Residents on the Msunduzi River below Henley Dam are advised to be careful during this time and are advised against crossing any submerged causeways or bridges.

This includes the notorious low-level bridges and causeways on Woodhouse Road and Grimthorpe Avenue.

The low-level bridge on Woodhouse Road, which forms part of the race route, will be closed to traffic during the event.

Said KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Union water liaison officer Kevin Trodd: “It’s the best scenario that the race found itself in with regard to water since I have been involved with the water liaison with Umgeni Water.”

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