Midmar sewage pollution concern

2015-05-14 10:00
Midmar Dam

Midmar Dam (File)

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Pietermaritzburg - Radio personalities, celebrities, government and environmental specialists ­visited Midmar dam and Mpophomeni township just outside Howick on Wednesday and witnessed first hand the raw sewage spilling into Midmar’s tributaries.

University of KwaZulu-Natal Master of Science student Sanele Ngubane said there was major concern with the water quality of Midmar dam and its tributaries that needed to be addressed.

Ngubane said he has identified four sewage spillages and a suspected 11 more, leaking into the tributaries that lead into the Midmar dam.

On Wednesday, World Wildlife Fund South Africa hosted the second day of their Journey of Water, visiting Midmar dam and the water catchments and wetlands in the surrounding area.

Ngubane, whose master’s dissertation is on the pollution in Midmar dam, said he had run a number of tests on the water quality of the dam’s tributaries and the results were worrying.

“It’s hectic. Some of the water ­samples we have taken from Midmar’s tributaries have shown there is no oxygen present in the water at all.

“Other samples have show that there is little or no life in the water which is also unhealthy. Midmar dam itself is experiencing algae blooms and there are a few water lilies popping up which are sewage-loving plants.”

He said it was concerning and while it presently did not pose a direct threat, it could become a huge problem in the near future if it were to continue.

He suggested that one solution to the problem may be to invest money and time into fixing the Mpophomeni sewerage infrastructure as that was the source of the problem.

He also suggested that a waste water treatment plant be installed in Mpophomeni to take the strain off ­Howick’s water treatment plant.

Umgeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership coordinator Dr Pearl Gola said the Journey of Water hosted by WWF was the starting point for co-ordinating a solution.

She said most of the issues stemmed from Mpophomeni, where some of the sewage infrastructure was either poorly maintained or not working at all.

“There are a few projects in place within the community to stop the pollution flowing in to the catchments but the partnerships needs to sit down with all its stakeholders and discuss a plan with an end result, and how we will get to that end result,” she said.

WWF Freshwater Programme senior manager Christine Colvin said she was happy with the response to Journey of Water and with the right systems, management and effort from government, NGOs and the community, the problem could be resolved.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  environment  |  pollution  |  water

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