As the summer holiday looms, concerns over the safety of Durban's beach water are casting a bit of a shadow over the building excitement. According to Times Live experts have warned that the water off Durban beaches contains toxic chemicals. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance activist Priya Pillay described the beaches as unsafe and unfit for holiday-makers, as tests carried out by the eThekwini municipality's water and sanitation department revealed high levels of E.coli and Enterococcus bacteria. These bacteria are known to cause cholera and gastro-intestinal illnesses.Earlier this year a local doctor contracted the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus, which might cause blistering and inflammation. The bacterium ate through the tissue on Dr Peter Breedt's foot, leaving an open wound.Tests have been carried out at various of the city's beaches over the past year and the results revealed that the quality of the beach water did not meet South African water standards.Pillay cited heavy pollution from industries in the city, as well as pollution from informal settlements as the cause.Tourism Update reports that the eThekwini Municipality has dismissed these claims. Neil Macleod, head of eThekwini Water and Sanitation, says the report was misleading and caused unnecessary concern. He explained that negative results for water quality are usually a result of rainfall immediately before a sampling event. "Some 86% of beaches show excellent water quality based on E.coli levels and 95% when based on Enterococcus values."