War on bacteria in Mgeni ahead of races

2012-02-07 00:00

A BATTLE against harmful bacteria in the Mgeni River is happening on two fronts.

This comes ahead of this weekend’s Midmar Mile and next weekend’s Unlimited Dusi, both of which take place in Mgeni waters.

Near Midmar Dam the offensive is a R400 000 sanitation education programme in Mpophomeni from where raw sewage makes its way into the dam, prompting concerns about E. coli levels.

The programme is a project of the Umgungundlovu District Municipality.

At Blue Lagoon in Durban officials are keeping an eye out for the flesh-eating bacterium Vibrio vulnificus, which an ocean paddler recently picked up off Durban.

Upcountry, water flowing into Midmar from Mpophomeni is often contaminated by sanitary towels and nappies, as there is no refuse collection in the township.

Liz Taylor, chairperson of the Howick branch of the Duzi Umgeni Conservation Trust (Duct), said the district municipality was doing its best to come up with a permanent solution to the problem.

But this should not affect the Midmar Mile. “Duct’s scientists say that E. coli should not be a problem during this weekend’s race,” said Taylor.

“The bacterium doesn’t survive long in fresh water and the cells should burst before they become a threat,” she said.

Midmar resort manager Themba Mbuyazi said that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife would be keeping an eye on E. coli levels in the dam throughout the week.

“We checked the water on Wednesday last week and we feel that E. coli will not be a problem.

“However, this may change if we get any rains so we will be monitoring this the whole week,” said Mbuyazi.

Unlimited Dusi spokesperson Ray de Vries said testing at Blue Lagoon would be a measure of ensuring the safety of paddlers.

He added that Duct and metro officials would be testing at the Blue Lagoon river mouth this week “to ensure that the water is free of the bacteria”.

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