Darvill spillage makes parts of Duzi off-limits

2012-10-24 00:00

PARTS of the Msunduzi River have been declared off-limits after a spillage from the Darvill sewage works.

People living downstream of Darvill have been warned not to come into direct contact with the water, which has been contaminated with dangerous levels of disease-causing E.Coli.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said sewage had spilled into the river due to the recent heavy rain and a lengthy power failure at Darvill on Sunday.

Harichunder said they had increased the frequency of water quality checks on the river, to monitor the extent of the contamination, since Sunday. “We have also increased the use of chlorine to quickly eradicate pollution on the river,” he said.

He said the Darvill waste water works was back to operating at its full capacity and the E.Coli count, an indicator of sewage contamination, had reduced significantly.

At the height of the worst pollution on Sunday, Umgeni issued a statement warning that people should avoid direct contact with the main Duzi River from Pietermaritzburg downstream, and in the uMngeni from where the Duzi joins the uMngeni River down to Inanda dam, for at least the next few days.

It said some impact was also expected on Inanda Dam, but that treated drinking water in the area would be unaffected by the problem.

Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust chairperson Dave Still said that this type of contamination was happening with “depressing regularity”.

“The storm that caused the trouble was not major, but a routine storm. The Pietermaritzburg sewer system and Darvill sewage works are inadequate to deal with the effects of rainfall,” he said.

He said the E.Coli concentration above Darvill was 160 000 per 100 ml of water, and below Darvill it was 250 000 per 100 ml of water, which meant serious pollution that was bad for the river’s health and dangerous to the public.

Still said Darvill needs additional buffering capacity to deal with storms and that Msunduzi Municipality should improve the maintenance of its drainage systems.

“We have been discussing this with Umgeni Water and plan to meet with them to look into the feasibility of using an engineered wetland to act as a buffer between the sewage works and the river,” he added.

Attempts to reach Msunduzi Municipality were unsuccessful at the time of going to print last night.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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