River’s fouled flow

2018-02-08 13:27
Hilton resident Rob Maitland-Stuart looks over the bridge in Howick near the Howick Falls down onto the Umgeni river covered in a layer of filth on Wednesday.

Hilton resident Rob Maitland-Stuart looks over the bridge in Howick near the Howick Falls down onto the Umgeni river covered in a layer of filth on Wednesday. (Ian Carbutt)

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A polluted stretch of the Umgeni River near the Howick Falls, which is blanketed by algae and masses of litter, has raised the concerns of the municipality and locals.

The polluted stretch of river can be seen from a bridge that runs over the river on Main Street, near the Howick Falls, a popular tourist attraction.

Old shoes, hundreds of plastic bottles, polystyrene, paint cans and even a wooden crate could be seen floating on top of a solid green mass.

Hilton resident Rob Maitland-Stuart said he came across the polluted stretch of river when he ran from his home in Hilton to Howick over the weekend. He was “absolutely horrified by the state of the river”.

“It is filled with all manner of rubbish … The sensitivity of our environment is a subject close to my heart and something needs to be done about educating the public about the consequences of discarding rubbish into the environment.”

He said there was an increasing focus on water as a precious commodity and added that the waste thrown into rivers would make its way to the ocean.

“We surely have a moral obligation to ensure we are not contributing towards what can only become an environmental disaster in time to come,” he said.

uMngeni municipal spokesperson Thando Mgaga said on Wednesday that Umgeni Water, the uMgungundlovu District Municipality together with the Department of Water and Sanitation and Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs have been advised of the pollution below the bridge into Howick.

Mgaga said uMngeni did not have the capacity to clear the pollution as “we mainly deal with refuse removal” and such matters are referred to the water department well as the tourism department and to Umgeni Water.

He said the municipality had been notified that there would be an on-site inspection by the water department and tourism department in conjunction with uMgungundlovu Municipality and Umgeni Water.

“Whilst the uMgungundlovu District Municipality is responsible for water and sanitation and in assisting the municipality with environmental related matters, the pump station next to the bridge is owned and operated by Umgeni Water,” said Mgaga.

He said the litter was washed from the roads into the storm water drains that discharge into the Umgeni River.

“The municipality has also observed an increase in littering into the river by pedestrians and motorists commuting over the bridge.

“The algae is something that the municipality is concerned about and has also been referred to the tourism department and the Department of Water and Sanitation.”

He said they had requested help with identifying what had caused the algae to increase.

“The municipality is concerned about the impact of this on tourism especially around the Howick Falls area.

“Together with the various departments we are confident that the pollution and algae will be cleared soon,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water pollution

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