Durban — Joint sampled beach water results with the Durban University of Technology (DUT) have shown good water quality in eThekwini.
That was according to the eThekwini Municipality which said that the latest results from the beach water quality joint sampling eThekwini Municipality undertook with the Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology (IWWT) at the DUT have once again shown acceptable standards.
The IWWT conducted water quality tests at some of Durban’s popular beach destinations, non–swimming beaches and the Umgeni River. The water samples, to test for E.coli, were obtained on Tuesday, November 28, 2023.
Results revealed that all swimming beaches except Laguna Beach, satisfy microbiological water quality standards for recreational water quality. However, samples obtained from the Umgeni River mouth and adjacent beaches far exceeded permissible limits for E. coli. Laguna Beach has been closed.
IWWT director Professor Faizal Bux advised the public to “refrain from using non-swimming beaches for recreational purposes. The institute will continue to monitor beach water quality during the holiday period and keep the public informed”.
Bux said that six of the 11 samples produced ideal results, one sample was acceptable and four water samples presented with critical levels of E.coli.
The sampling was done concurrently with the eThekwini Municipality. The Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology at DUT publishes the results in the public interest. The tests are conducted by scientists and researchers based at the award-winning IWWT at the DUT and the water sampling tests are not commissioned by any external person and/or organisation or entity.
Reacting to the results, the municipality said it was a testament of the City’s efforts to reduce pollution at its popular beaches.
These results follow the recent joint sampling that the City did with another independent laboratory, Talbot, which indicated “excellent” results for the City’s main beaches.
The municipality said that the joint sampling exercise that the City does at selected beaches with IWWT and Adopt-A-River, whose samples are tested by Talbot, is to enable credible comparison of test results in the interest of transparency. It is also to educate the public about the beach quality water testing processes.
The municipality tests beach water samples at its ISO 17025-accredited municipal laboratory. These results have always been comparable with the independent laboratories since the joint sampling process was initiated.
“There’s often confusion when there are different test results from the City and independent laboratories. This occurs if the sample has not been taken at the same place and at the same time. It is inevitable that the results will fluctuate because environmental conditions change all the time, especially when there are heavy rains that wash pollution into the sea,” said municipal spokesperson Gugu Sisilana.
She said the joint sampling with independent laboratories is done in addition to the City’s monitoring and routine weekly testing across all its 23 bathing beaches.
Sisilana added that where there are poor results, the pollution team is immediately alerted to trace the source so that remedial work is done to stop the pollution.
The City also conducts re-sampling to ensure the quality of the water so that an informed decision is made on whether or not to close a particular beach. It must be noted that this decision is not made after one sampling exercise.
“The public is requested to always note the sampling date when analysing the test results either for joint sampling or the routine testing results on the website. This will help to understand the current status and to avoid being misled by those who are hellbent on creating unnecessary panic. The water quality results are also placed on boards at the beach. We urge the public not to vandalise these boards, as some have had to be replaced due to vandalism,” Sisilana said.
She said that the City acknowledged that some beaches may experience pollution from time to time. This is due to the ongoing work on the sanitation infrastructure after the April 2022 flood disasters and heavy rains experienced this year. However, when the results show otherwise, the City prioritises the safety of the public, this includes closing the beaches and doing remedial work when necessary.
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