No Duzi contamination figures

2008-01-11 00:00

Experts yesterday continued to refuse to release actual water quality test results regarding E.coli contamination of the Umsunduzi River, saying they want to avoid public confusion and misinterpretation of E.coli counts.

The Witness was told actual test results will not be released to the public, but that instead health risk classes will be announced according to ongoing tests.

Spokesman for the joint task team on the state of the Duzi, Ian Bailey, said the main reason for not disclosing test results was because "different people have different interpretations of figures", and that giving out the health risk classes is all that was "necessary" at this stage.

Bailey said that at Wednesday’s meeting with various roleplayers, it was agreed that releasing health risk classes was "far less misleading".

Results of tests on Wednesday at Camps Drift indicated that the water quality has maintained its "tolerable moderate health risk for canoeing, which improves to an acceptable moderately low health risk at the low-level bridge above the Darvill waste water works", according to Bailey.

Meanwhile, Hansa Powerade Dusi Canoe Marathon chairman Cameron McKenzie reiterated that they are taking the issue "very seriously".

"Once we get the actual figures the paddlers will get a chance to make their own choice whether to continue with the race," McKenzie said.

He added that in the past there have been numerous problems associated with pollution in the Duzi , but as long as paddlers are aware of the E.coli levels, they could make their "own judgment".

Field experts and scientists also agreed that there is no way of controlling the water quality should there be heavy rainfall prior to the race, which starts on January 17.

Water Affairs and Forestry Department spokesman and chair of the water quality sub-committee, Lin Gravelet-Blondin said he welcomes a second opinion and said that "the more brains we can put into place the better".

"This will assist the Dusi committee in making a better decision," he said.

Forecasters at the weather bureau have predicted that, although there is a chance of rain in the week preceding the Dusi, major falls are not expected in the river catchment area.

Thundershowers will be localised more towards the north of the province, they said.

Municipal workers engaged in a river clean-up yesterday in the Duzi near Slangspruit, the source of the rubbish that fouled Camps Drift this week.

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