Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Liar, liar pants on fire ...!
Durban water and sanitation head Neil Macleod has acknowledged problems at some of the city's sewage treatment works, but denied that the city was facing a crisis.
He was responding to recent exposures in The Mercury and the television documentary Carte Blanche about potentially health-threatening levels of sewage pollution in several rivers, reportedly owing to a lack of maintenance or management problems at municipal waste-water treatment works.
Macleod said he was preparing a comprehensive response to recent media reports and a scientific report on the state of Durban rivers by expert Mark Graham.
"The public needs to know what is happening and to have confidence in what we are doing - and we will make that information available."
Pressed to comment on a weekend Carte Blanche investigation suggesting that more than a third of the country's waste-water treatment works required immediate maintenance to prevent a water pollution crisis comparable to the Eskom blackouts, Macleod said he could not comment on the situation facing other municipalities.
"I can only speak about Durban, where most of our treatment works are fine and which meet the standards consistently," he said.
Noting that the former Durban municipality had taken over several treatment works during the amalgamation process of the enlarged eThekwini Metro Council, Macleod said: "There are some where we have had to spend tens of millions of rands to fix (problems)... Some are finished, some are not. But in relation to our municipality, I don't think it's a fair reflection to suggest that there is a crisis."
Graham reported in his latest assessment of the city's rivers that the eThekwini municipality was "largely responsible for the poor condition of many of the rivers".
He reported that there were several sites where E.coli (sewage) pollution posed a "significant likelihood" of causing gastro-intestinal illness during recreation - and that in some cases significant sewage pollution from municipal treatment works had not been remedied for several years. He singled out the Umbilo and Umhlatuzana waste-water treatment works and the Izimbokodweni sewer pump station.
Macleod said no conclusive evidence had been gathered so far on the source of the recent "red river" pollution in a Pinetown stream feeding the Umbilo River. He was also unaware of complaints by Seaview factory owner Mike Gedye, who reported that the car park at Froggies Footwear was contaminated with sewage on Sunday night after a heavy rainstorm.
"No one has reported this to us, but if the sewers are blocked again, someone has obviously put something down there again because we have already replaced some of those pipes entirely," he said.
Posted by Poster at 6:47 AM