River polluted 'for over a year'

Durban city officials are investigating the source of several recent cases of water pollution in the Umbilo River in KwaZulu-Natal, media reports said yesterday.

Durban city officials are investigating the source of several recent cases of water pollution in the Umbilo River in KwaZulu-Natal, media reports said yesterday.

Quoting Chris Wilkinson, the health and safety officer at Eurosteel, in Pinetown's Surprise Road, one of the streams leading into Umbilo River - in the Westmead-Pinetown industrial area - had been polluted on a regular basis "for more than a year".

"This happens once or twice a month and there seems to be a regular pattern," he said.

"At first the water is almost black, and stinks of sewage. Then it becomes white and foamy and then it turns reddish to bright pink."

Wilkinson said there were several chemical factories and warehouses in the area, and though he had been "taking photographs and telephoning" the eThekwini water pollution department for more than a year, the problems had not been resolved.

Copies of Wilkinson's photographs were e-mailed to the eThekwini water and sanitation department on Friday, and while officials said the source of the pollution had been traced, no official comment was available on the identity of the polluter - or what action had been taken.

Meanwhile, water experts were quoted in M-Net's Carte Blanche on Sunday as saying that nearly a third of South Africa's municipal sewerage works needed "urgent" maintenance to prevent leaks of raw sewage into the country's rivers.

The TV programme raised questions on whether an epidemic of waterborne diseases from river pollution in South Africa was the next crisis after Eskom's blackouts. - Sapa

X