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Durban beaches lose out on Blue Flag status

The eThekwini Municipality failed to meet the 33 required criteria to fly the Blue Flag that attracts more tourists, especially during the festive season which is nearly upon us.

NOT one Durban beach has received Blue Flag status certification. This is according to the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) who this week made the announcement.

The Blue Flag status is a certification given to beaches by WESSA. A beach that has been awarded the Blue Flag means it meets the organisation’s standards of environmental management. These standards are for water quality, safety and public environmental education.

Therefore, it’s all red flags for the beaches of the eThekwini Municipality after they did not apply for Blue Flag status accreditation. To achieve Blue Flag status, 33 main criteria have to be met, including providing information relating to local ecosystems, water quality and the environment, which the City failed to meet due to the amount of E. coli found in the beaches’ water.

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Three of eThekwini’s beaches made it to the Blue Flag list in 2022/23, notably the uShaka, Point and North beaches.

WESSA said, “The eThekwini Municipality didn’t submit any applications for Blue Flag status for the 2023/24 period, therefore, it was not assessed for accreditation.”

Durban beaches are well-known for attracting millions of people from all over the country. The city has been plagued by high levels of E. coli for the past 18 months, after the devastating April floods that led to sewage spilling into the ocean.

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According to the City, because of all of the infrastructure that was destroyed or affected during the floods, much has had to be rebuilt to ensure the running of the city goes back to normal. The City has repaired most of these and is still fixing considerably more damaged infrastructure.

“The City’s Water and Sanitation Department has been working hard to ensure that all infrastructure affected by the April 2022 floods is repaired. It took the municipality 12 months to fix the majority of damaged sewerage infrastructure in affected areas. We have successfully repaired 90% of the larger-diameter sewerage infrastructure,” said Lindiwe Khuzwayo, spokesperson for eThekwini Municipality.

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