Coast KZN

07 May 2019

Raw sewage flows into harbour

Se-Anne Rall ( The Mercury) Picture: Raw sewage flows into the Durban harbour near the Point Yacht Club. Sibonelo Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

DURBAN – Environmental organisations have expressed concern over the flow of raw sewage from pump stations into the Durban harbour. They believe the contaminated water poses a serious threat to both the marine life at the harbour and those who fish alongside the marina.

Durban South Community Environmental Alliance spokesperson Desmond D’Sa said the sewage was bad news for those who paddled and swam in the area. D’Sa said that if swimmers or paddlers had lesions or cuts on their skin, they should refrain from entering the water.

“The sewage flow will also have a major effect on the marine life as it will deplete the oxygen levels in the water,” he said.

Coast Watch vice-chairperson John Marshall said the issue has been a problem for several months.

“There used to be weekly spills, especially along Lavender Creek at the Durban Harbour. Recently, this issue has been exacerbated by the heavy rains experienced in the city, he said. This poses significant health problems and can lead to all sorts of disasters.”

“It has affected the sailing and paddling activities in the area. Soon you will start to see the marine life being affected,” he said.

Marshall said that businesses in the area had also been affected. The Point Yacht Club is one such business and has complained of taking a knock financially due to the lingering stench in the area.

“Boats along the marina are not being launched, and those who clean boats are not diving into the water to do their jobs. Many of the smaller businesses have put their operations on hold. This is also affecting subsistence fishermen, and those eating the fish could become very sick,” he said.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) environmental manager Simphiwe Mazibuko said they were aware of the sewage leak.

“The municipality reported the failure of one of their pumps at the Mahatma Gandhi Pump station. Repairs have not yet taken place and this has been exacerbated by the current municipal strike action.

“The Port of Durban is, unfortunately, on the receiving end of a large volume of litter, effluent and sewage that is discharged through the storm-water reticulation system from a catchment area of more than 200km² in size,” Mazibuko said.

He said TNPA had suspended diving operations and underwater maintenance within the high-risk areas until further notice.