The closure of Uvongo Beach

2018-03-22 06:00

UVONGO Beach has been closed for the past two weeks due to high e-coli counts in the lagoon.

The Ugu Environmental Department was forced to close the beach and has recently implemented the South African Water Quality Guidelines For Coastal Marine Water, which are much stricter than the SANS 42 Guidelines used in the past. The new prescribed threshold is 500 e-coli per 100 ml compared with the 1 000 e-coli count in the past.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that whenever any lagoon’s e-coli count is over the threshold, the lagoon is immediately closed.

Once the lagoon breaches and flows into the ocean the beach will, from now on, automatically also be closed for public health and safety reasons. This has not happened in the past. Unfortunately, in the case of Uvongo Beach, the river flows year round into the ocean and from now on the beach will always be closed if the lagoon e-coli counts are over the limit. Not good news.

While the Uvongo Tidal Pool is still open, we’ve also requested Ugu do tests there, which it is doing.

I’m waiting for the lagoon’s latest test results and will share both results as soon as I receive them.

Ugu has no option but to apply the new standards as it can be held criminally liable if people get sick.

I agree, let’s rather put the people’s health and safety first. Let’s hope the tidal pool is fine and that the beach will be open soon.

We are fortunate to have two other beautiful beaches close by — Lucien Beach, a Blue Flag beach with no river or lagoon, and St Mike’s Beach — where the latest test results were well within the limits. Please use them as alternatives in the meantime. The blame for this lies squarely on Ugu’s shoulders and I’ve demanded from it that it find the source of the contamination as a matter of urgency and deal with it once and for all.

Ugu staff have assured me that they are doing everything possible to get to the bottom of the problem as they realise the impact of beach closures on the local economy and the tourism industry.

I shall keep you informed on all fronts. Thank you.

DA CLLR GEORGE HENDERSON

Ward 19: Uvongo, Manaba and St Michaels on Sea

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