Rivers becoming cesspools

[caption id="attachment_67674" align="alignright" width="300"] FIGHTING POLLUTION: NMM councillors Jimmy Tutu, left, and Buyelwa Mafaya join Jenny Rump from the Zwartkops Conservancy in looking at photos of the Swartkops River pollution Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN -[/caption]

Failing infrastructure, vandalism and illegal dumping cause huge spike in pollution levels

Frequent sewage spills caused by failing infrastructure, vandalism and illegal dumping are turning Nelson Mandela Bay’s rivers into cesspools contaminated with more than 1 500 times the level of E. coli bacteria set by the Department of Water Affairs for the recreational use of rivers.

And 10 days after a leaking pipe, which saw millions of litres of raw sewage flow into the Swartkops River for almost four months, was repaired, municipal officials were unable to say yesterday whether the river was fit for recreational use.

The pipe, which transports raw sewage from Motherwell to Fishwater Flats, has suffered 16 bursts since October last year.

But even after municipal officials visited the site yesterday, another massive break in the pipe network caused raw sewage to spout into the air, according to Zwartkops Conservancy conservation official Jenny Rump.

She said the conservancy was deeply concerned about yesterday’s spill because even though metro officials were cleaning it up, “a lake of sewage” had already flowed into the river.

-Estelle Ellis and Rochelle de Kock

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