Lingering worries over Dusi bacteria

2012-02-15 00:00

DOING the Dusi? Worrying about Dusi Guts?

Well, those keeping an eye on the water quality are “cautiously optimistic” about the state of the river tomorrow when The Unlimited Dusi canoe marathon begins.

Meanwhile an all-clear has been given concerning the flesh-eating bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, that has been reported on Durban beaches. “This is a not a riverborne bacteria and it needs salt to survive,” said Dusi spokesperson Ray de Vries. “Durban Metro says there is no problem.”

However, there are some concerns about E.coli levels.

“As of Monday the water quality was not good enough,” said Dave Still, chairperson and a founding member of the Duzi Umgeni Conservation Trust (Duct), which campaigns for the environmental health of the Msunduzi and Mgeni rivers. “But we will be testing again and it should be okay by Thursday, thanks to the inflow of clean water from Henley Dam.”

Every year water is released from Henley Dam before the three-day canoe marathon. The Duct website states the quality of water released from Henley is typically very good (less than 500 parts of E.coli per 100ml). “As this is a higher flow than the flow in the river without the release, this Henley water does significantly improve the quality of the water that paddlers are exposed to.

“The ideal for paddlers on the Msunduzi is 5 000 parts of E.coli per 100 ml or less,” said Still, “but we are getting higher levels at the moment.”

Levels vary. On Monday the level at Edendale Weir was 13 300 parts of E.coli per 100 ml while below KwaPata it was 34 500.

“The water quality always deteriorates when it rains, as it did last week,” said Still. Duct is still concerned about the Baynespruit that runs into the Msunduzi below Northdale, as there are sewage spills in the Baynespruit, Dorpspruit and Slangspruit tributaries of the Msunduzi. On Monday levels in the Dorpspruit were as high as 104 600 parts of E.coli per 100 ml.

Still said the weather forecast favoured the paddlers, with no big storms expected.

Duct was founded in 2005 by canoeists.

“We were all involved professionally in some way with water,” said Still, “But we were all paddlers and it was while paddling the river we realised this is a stuff-up and we needed to do something.”

Updates at www.duct.org.za.

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