eThekwini closes 6 beaches due to poor water quality

Blow to holidaymakers and Durban tourism as several beaches are declared no-swim zones.

eThekwini Municipality in KZN has closed six beaches with elevated E. coli levels and continues to re-sample and monitor them.

The city took this precautionary step after the latest results from a joint sampling of beach water quality showed that there were alarming levels of E. coli at six beaches and three rivers tested on December 7.

The joint sampling was done by eThekwini Municipality with Adopt-A-River, a non-profit organisation whose samples are tested by independent laboratory Talbot.

The closed beaches are Point, Ushaka, South, North, Battery and Country Club. These are six of Durban’s main beaches that attract tourists and swimmers from all over the country.

Over the weekend, thousands of beachgoers crowded these beaches unaware of the alarming levels of E. coli.

According to the municipality, the latest results, which were released yesterday, show higher-than-normal E. coli levels.

Acceptable E. coli levels should be under 500. Worryingly, Country Club Beach tested above 24 000 while the river at Kingfisher Canoe Club tested at a disturbing 1,2m.

The high levels of E. coli have been attributed to the heavy rainfall, which according to the city, washes pollution from rivers, streams, and stormwater systems into the ocean.

Durban has experienced several days of heavy rainfall since last week, which has also led to the postponement of some outdoor events, the municipality said.

The municipality said it is normal to have poor water quality when heavy rains continue to batter the city.

It highlighted that the rains result in pollution, including foreign objects, washing from rivers and streams, as well as other water sources into the ocean.

The beaches with poor water quality have been closed while re-sampling and monitoring of the beaches continue. The repairs and maintenance of sanitation infrastructure are also ongoing. Significant improvement has been made following the extensive flood damage, said the municipality.

The results have changed drastically from the results released previously. However, they do confirm concerns raised by opposition parties, particularly ActionSA, that some beaches in the province were not yet safe to swim in.

Durban residents took to Facebook to comment on the water quality.

Anele, was adamant that people will swim regardless of the results. “We are going, we don’t care if it is poor or excellent. We used to swim in the river and no one tested the water.”

Adopt-A-River founder Janet Simpkins said: “We feel very strongly that residents and visitors should check the latest beach readings and take precautions if there has been rainfall.”

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