River polution

2008-01-08 00:00

Lack of access to clean and potable water is a global problem. One billion people worldwide do not have it. It is therefore unsurprising that millions die from waterborne diseases every year.

While in the First World water is a fluid that comes out of a tap in the kitchen or bathroom, for many people in the Third World — and locally that means parts of the Msunduzi catchment area — water has to be collected from a stream or a river and carried to the homestead.

It is in such conditions that pollution occurs in times of rainy weather. But it is only when a major sporting event such as the Hansa

Powerade Dusi Marathon is endangered by a faecal bacterial count of up to 26 000 parts per 100 millilitres (13 times more than the acceptable level) that the situation hits the headlines.

The race is obviously important as one of the major annual events that places Pietermaritzburg on the sporting map and which, as such, is a significant money-spinner for the city. The organisers have already put in place a Plan B providing for a start lower down the river where the contamination will be less if the traditional start of Camps Drift is not possible. So it is unlikely that, whatever happens, the race will not go ahead.

But the state of pollution is of only brief concern to the relatively few people involved in the Dusi Marathon. It is of permanent concern to a vastly greater number of people who live in the valley and who are obliged to use the river on a daily basis. For them, such levels of pollution are entirely unacceptable.

The municipality cannot escape its health and social obligations. What has been done with the R10 million which it was reportedly allocated to deal with the situation? It needs to protect a money-spinner but, far more, it needs to meet the needs of the poor in providing both potable water and appropriate sewage disposal.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.