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Uvongo and Lucien beaches on KZN South Coast reopen, as E.coli levels drop drastically

Uvongo Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. I Wessel Strydom

Uvongo Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. I Wessel Strydom

Published Jan 12, 2022


Durban – The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay has expressed relief following the reopening of Uvongo and Lucien Beaches on the KZN South Coast.

On December 30 the beaches were closed following high levels of Escherichia coli, (E.coli) bacteria in the water.

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In a statement issued by Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs on Wednesday, they said its lagoon showed a drastic drop in the overnight E.coli readings, which prompted a decision to reopen the beach immediately.

MEC Pillay said: “This is welcomed news to all of us, especially the tourism sector and businesses along the coastal line of the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality. We felt their pain when beach activities were not possible because of the contamination of water. However, the need to protect public health, livelihoods and sustainability of the environment outweighed any other possibility, hence the decision to close the beaches.”

Results from water tests conducted on Monday, January 10, showed a drastic decrease in the E.coli levels, with Uvongo river upstream of the Waste Water Treatment plant and below KwaMasinenge settlement reading at 200 down from 1 313 the previous day.

“Uvongo lagoon was down to 200 from 2 909 the previous day while Uvongo beach recorded 300 down from 1 076,” he said.

Uvongo beach was closed after sewage pumps in the KwaMasinenge low cost housing project spilled into the environment because of vandalism which caused a spill that contaminated the stream en route to the river leading to the lagoon and eventually to the beach.

They said this was also exacerbated by some mechanical faults at the Ugu District Municipality Uvongo Sewer Treatment Plant which led to untreated sewage being released directly into the lagoon and the beach.

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Lucien Beach was closed on January 7, due of a ruptured sewerage pipe that feeds into one of the pump stations along the coastline.

“The pipe was fixed but the beach remained closed due to high E.coli levels. The latest test results at Lucien beach also came in within the permissible levels of under 500 per 100ml.

“We must appreciate the good work that has been done by a multi-departmental team that has been on site since the incidents occurred. With the same breath, we must also categorically state that some of the spills are avoidable. We are concerned by an apparent lack of proper management of some of these treatment pumps. Notwithstanding the ageing infrastructure and limited budgets, municipalities must adhere to strict maintenance plans which will help detect and prevent any problems with their sewerage systems,” Pillay said.

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Water quality testing, repair and maintenance work of all sewer lines, pumps, and treatment plants will continue for the foreseeable future until any potential threat to the water system was eliminated, he said.

The Speaker of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, Councillor Zodwa Mzindle expressed appreciation for the team efforts to ensure that the problem was being addressed.


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