Ugu explains seasonal beach closures

2018-04-19 06:00

OVER the festive season swimming and recreational activity was prohibited in some of South Coast beaches due to contamination, however, the municipality said the contamination was not from a sewage spill.

At the end of March, both Ramsgate and Uvongo lagoons were closed as a precautionary measure.

Ugu District Municipality then notified the public on their municipal talk page on Facebook saying that tests are being done on a daily basis and the community will be notified when the beaches and lagoons are open for swimming and recreational activities.

In the last update on April 7, Ugu posted a notice on the Facebook talk page saying Uvongo beach is opened for swimming, however, the lagoon still remains closed.

Ugu was contacted to specify what the contamination was. Ugu spokesperson France Zama said during the festive season, swimming areas of beaches and lagoons were sampled daily by the Environmental Health Department to monitor the quality of marine waters in accordance with the South African Water Quality Guidelines for Coastal Marine Waters, using microbiological indicators, which is the E. coli count.

This count is used to identify the risk to public health from possible disease-causing bacteria, viruses and protozoa in the coastal waters.

Zama said when the beach is closed it means the E. coli count found is threshold (unacceptable) in terms of the above guidelines and it is closed as a precautionary measure for recreational purposes.

“Sampling of high risk areas is intensified to monitor the E. coli levels and then the beach is reopened when results are in compliance.”

“The lagoons were closed due to results fluctuating as rivers traverse many properties and flow downstream inevitably resulting in impurities entering the rivers and tributaries and contribute to non-compliance for recreational purposes.

Recent rains also attributed to high E. coli counts.

Due to the E. coli count in the lagoon and rivers fluctuating regularly, all lagoons were considered to be unsafe as we were unable to guarantee the safety of the water for recreational purposes.

However, the beaches and lagoons were sampled regularly to monitor E. coli counts.” said Zama.

Zama said warning signs were conspicuously displayed at strategic points at lagoons, sensitising the public over and above this communication of closures of lagoons and beaches communicated via our Facebook page and those of the affected local municipalities.

“Currently, beaches are open for recreational purposes and lagoons do remain closed.” said Zama.

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