Coast KZN

06 Oct 2019

Frequent sewage spills threaten uMhlanga’s chance at Blue Flag status

Danica Hansen (Northglen News) Picture: Belden Nair said he saw murky water washing out to sea when he was walking on Whalebone Pier.

NOT only are residents fed up, but frequent sewage leaks in uMhlanga are posing a threat to the converted Blue Flag status. The eThekwini Municipality recently applied to include Umhlanga Main Beach in the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa’s (WESSA) Pilot Blue Flag Programme which will kick off in November.

In a recent interview with the Northglen News, Robert Slater, coastal coordinator for WESSA said water quality was a major concern for uMhlanga Main Beach.

“One of the first things we will do during the pilot programme is to collect water samples – at the end of the day, water quality is one of the most important things,” he said.

“Water quality is affected by unregulated building in surrounding area and at times using the storm water drain for site discharge. There have also been numerous sewage spillages on the promenade which seems to point to a sewage system either overstrained or in need of some upgrading and maintenance,” he added.

A few weeks prior to this, ocean lover, Belden Nair said he was shocked to see a river of murky water gushing down McCausland Crescent. An avid walker who frequents the scenic uMhlanga promenade, Nair noticed the water draining into a manhole on McCausland road just above the uMhlanga pier. He said it seemed as though contaminated water was being washed out into the ocean.

“I noticed that the water was a milky colour and when I went down onto the pier, I saw the same milky coloured water gushing into the ocean. I traced the leak and followed it. I figured it was the same water- that was my judgement. I normally take a walk on my break at work. Umhlanga Rocks is a clean zone and you would never expect to see water running down the road into the beach. When I was walking down the road it smelt like sewage. The leak started at the top of the road where Lighthouse Road merges into Mc Causland,” he said.

Ward councillor for the area, Nicole Bollman said she has received many queries from residents from across the Ward regarding sewage leaks. She said there could be a “culmination of reasons” for the leaks, including failing or ailing infrastructure, a lack of maintenance and an increase in development in the ward resulting in more people utilising a system that has not been upgraded to contend with the increases. Bollman said the sewage spills could jeopardise the chances of uMhlanga beach gaining Blue Flag status.

“We must be cognizant of the fact that uMhlanga is a prime tourist destination for local as well as international tourists. I would hate to see this matter remain un-resolved as it wouldn’t only see the opportunity of the Blue Flag status dwindle but would also, possibly, see a reduction in tourists visiting. This would impact on the many hotels, jobs and the local economy as a whole. I would really like to see the municipality take ownership of this matter – the December holidays are just around the corner,” she added.