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On Durban's "toxic beaches"

11 September 2012, 14:46

By Ted Knott, National Coastal Project Manager, WESSA

This is in reply to the article entitled 'Durban's Toxic Beaches':

WESSA (the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa) through our coastal project Blue Flag and through the coastal volunteer programme CoastWatch are working with Ethekwini Municipality to improve their water quality.

As in most of the rest of the country, much of the pollution can be traced back to a land-based source, which in Durban's case have been identified as stormwater drains; illegal sewage connections and marine outfalls. One must remember that whatever enters a river ends up in the sea and as South Africans we need to be more mindful of this fact.

The situation in Durban is exacerbated by its tropical water, where microbiological indicator concentrations such as E. coli and intestinal enterococci have been shown to survive and re-grow and are thus not necessarily limited to faecal sources.

District Municipalities need to be playing a more effective role in sewage management, as pollution from sewage is one of the greatest threats to marine and coastal conservation in South Africa. As we have contingency plans for oil spills, so we also need to prepare plans for a new threat - plastic pellet spills, Wwhich WESSA's Blue Flag Programme, in collaboration with partners, is working to address.

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