Dead fish raises stinking concerns

2016-03-16 06:00
Fish on the surface of the Isipingo lagoon, grasping for air.  Photo: supplied

Fish on the surface of the Isipingo lagoon, grasping for air. Photo: supplied

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ON Wednesday, 9 March, shoals of dead fish were spotted by a concerned Isipingo Beach resident in the Isipingo River estuary.
“The water was very black and stinking of sewage. The density of the pollutant or discolouration was high. The river is deep and holds a large volume of water. To discolour it to such intensity requires enormous volumes of pollutant, so it cannot be a minor incident,” he said.

“But, as in the many past incidents, the city will do an investigation and report that there were no sewage spills,” he projected.

eThekwini then issued a press release on Thursday, 10 March stating that it has sent its team of experts from the Clairwood office to investigate reports of dead fish in the lagoon.

“We received reports on Wednesday night and a team from the environmental health unit was immediately dispatched to the scene. The cause of the fish kill is unknown at this stage, but city health officials would like to appeal to the public not to collect the fish for consumption as it poses a serious health risk”, it stated.
The same day, the Department of Water Affairs and KZN Wildlife were informed of the situation and KZN Wildlife took samples.

On Monday, 14 March the Fever received an email from eThekwini confirming there were reportedly no sewage spills.
The email stated: “All the pump stations in the area were checked and there were no failures of any of the electrical or mechanical pumping equipment, all pump stations are operating normally.”
Also that upstream of the lagoon and water hyacinth areas, they were doing fine.

The concerned resident said this is a microcosim of what is happening all around the country.
“I live on the Isipingo River and [it seems] they [city] can‘t fix a problem that keeps reoccurring. Amanzimtoti, the Umbilo, Palmiet and the Umgeni rivers, are all damaged. I doubt that any of our rivers are sewage free.”

It seems this is the result of ineptitude, lack of proper management and bad maintenance.

“Even more concerning was the fact that the public were collecting and selling the dead fish on the side of the lagoon. The concerned member of the public who noticed the event and notified the relevant departments said it was like a “sardine frenzy”.”

“On the morning of 9 March, I spoke to two city workers who were in a bakkie, taking water samples. I suggested they use Metro Police to stop people taking fish. The driver’s response was that I should not tell him how to do his job. I asked him if he had taken or photographed any fish. His response was that he had not seen any dead fish. “This, as people were walking around with loads of fish in full view. I did not want an argument and left it at that. A group of SAPS officers came, led by a Colonel Naidoo, from Isipingo, and they tried to talk to people, although with little effect,” he said.

Amanzimtoti Fever contacted Christopher Fennemore, the pollution environment branch manager, asking if he can give the public the assurance that the sewage infrastructure is not, as many believe, on the verge of collapse, and that eThekwini has the situation in hand, with plans to improve matters.

No response was forthcoming at the time of going to press.

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