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28 Jan 2016

Sewage overflow poisons river

Earl Baillache (South Coast Sun)

The Winkle River and lagoon water being aerated by the municipality after Thursday’s sewage spill.

There were dead fish in the water, but it was business as usual on the beach.

A spill caused by a broken sewer pipe at the Kingsway pumpstation on Thursday, 21 January led to a massive fish kill in the Winkle River and lagoon at the weekend.

“The sewage spill into the Winkle River and lagoon in Amanzimtoti was caused by a broken 450mm diameter rising sewer main steel pipe.

The repair was completed on Monday, 25 January and the situation is back to normal,” said eThekwini communications head, Tozi Mthethwa.

“The municipality responded brilliantly once it was alerted to the problem,” said Toti Conservancy chairman, Laura Taylor.

However, residents who live in the vicinity of the river and lagoon were outraged by the stench and the municipality’s failure to warn the public.

One resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, said it has become unbearable to live there.

“There is often sewage being released into the river to flow out to Winkelspruit’s main swimming beach,” he said.

“I have complained numerous times and the municipality has responded with flushing tanker trucks and lime powder to try and clean river, but it does not correct the situation.

At the weekend, the volume of overflow sewage being pumped into the river and lagoon increased and the stench was so unbearable we had to remain indoors with doors and windows shut.

What was shocking was the pumping continued throughout the weekend, without the municipality issuing any warning to the public of what was happening.

A municipal truck was parked at Winkle beach with a huge water pump on the grass to aerate the water and all this was happening while children played in the river and lagoon, and people swam at the beach.

There were dead fish in the water, but it was business as usual on the beach, with the lifeguards totally obliviously to the danger the toxic water posed to the public.”

The concerned resident said he questioned the municipal truck driver as to why they weren’t informing the public of the danger, but his response was “the people don’t listen”. “If they were warned there was sewage in the water, no-one in their right mind would swim in the river or sea and they wouldn’t have allowed their children to.

This has now sadly become a common occurrence and it is a serious health risk to my family and I, and the public. Something has to be done to correct the situation and to prevent health risks and damage to the environment and animal life.”

Almost exactly a year ago, on 6 January 2015, the Sun reported that two young boys had to be rushed to hospital, suffering from an E.Coli bug and dehydration after swimming in the sewage-infested Winkle lagoon.

To increase response time to sewage spills, report it via the Engineering Services Centre on 080-131-3013 and obtain a reference number. If the response is too slow, you can call back with the reference number and insist on the response being escalated.