Dusi officials test quality of water

2015-02-13 00:00

DUSI Canoe Marathon Race officials and officials from the Dusi Umgeni Conservation Trust are closely monitoring the quality of the water in the Msunduzi River after a week in which scientists noted elevated pollution levels following heavy rainfall, ­technical failures and the effect of load shedding at the Darvill ­Wastewater Works.

Water testing is conducted on a regular basis by scientists from Umgeni Water and the Dusi Umngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) that was set up by paddlers to monitor water quality and address environmental concerns facing the river systems.

While water quality readings have generally fallen within what is accepted as a normal range for summer ­rainfall, attention has been drawn to unusually high discharges from the Darvill Wastewater Works in the past week. The Dusi advised paddlers via social media on the weekend to avoid using the Msunduzi River until the levels were once again within an ­acceptable range.

The discharge has been attributed to technical failures at some of the storage dams in the Darvill ­Wastewater Works, aggravated by regular load shedding that has ­disrupted the normal pumping between the dams, and unusually high water inflow following storms that hit the greater Pietermaritzburg region.

The latest testing done by the Duct officials showed that the Msunduzi River at Camps Drift down to the Darvill Wastewater Works has been of an acceptable standard, and well within the range deemed safe by the standards that have been uniformly adopted by recreational river users for more than a decade.

The latest tests downstream of the Darvill Wastewater Works reflect the sharp spike in E. coli levels from the irregular discharge from Darvill.

“There is no cause for alarm at this stage”, said Dusi general manager Brett Austen Smith. “The normal lifespan of the E. coli is 24 to 48 hours, and the die-off will be noted in the readings downstream.”

The 64th edition of the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban from Thursday, February 19 to Saturday, February 21. More information can be found at www.dusi.co.za

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