Toxic chemicals in Durban beach water

With only weeks to go before thousands of holiday-makers travel to KwaZulu-Natal, experts have warned that the water off many Durban beaches contains toxic chemicals.

Beaches, including Anstey’s and Brighton, are among those affected

South Durban Community Environmental Alliance activist Priya Pillay described Durban’s beaches as unsafe and unfit for holiday-makers.

“The tests carried out by the eThekwini municipality’s water and sanitation department revealed high levels of E.coli and Enterococcus bacteria, which cause cholera and gastro-intestinal illnesses,” she said.

The city tested beaches around Durban in the past year, ending in July, and the results revealed that the quality of the beach water did not meet South African water standards.

Pillay cited heavy pollution from industries in the city, as well as pollution from informal settlements as the cause.

“Beaches, including Anstey’s and Brighton, are among those affected,” she said.

In February, the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus was found at a Durban beach after a local doctor contracted it while surfing.

This bacterium, which might cause blistering and inflammation, had eaten through the tissue on Dr Peter Breedt’s foot, leaving an open wound.

He was among several people who became sick after swimming or surfing off city beaches. Continue reading

Water cost to rise 38% to fund dam

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 May 2011

Millions of KwaZulu-Natal residents, including the whole of Durban, will pay at least 38 percent more for their water from July 1.

The entire cost of Spring Grove Dam will be recouped from consumers

More than 84 percent of the tariff goes to funding the Spring Grove Dam, which the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority started building this year.

Parliament heard that Umgeni water board’s tariff increase was only 6 percent – with 32 percent going to the funding of the dam.

Mohamed Vawda, director of water resource financing and pricing for the department of water affairs, said the R2 billion dam was a “full cost recovery project”.

The entire cost of the dam will be recouped from the consumers.

In the rest of the country, where municipalities get their water from water boards, prices will increase by between 6 and 20 percent from July 1.

Poor communities of Botshelo, Bela Bela, Rustenburg and Wallmanstal who get water through the Magalies water board, face huge increases of between 16 and 28 percent.

Meanwhile, Rand Water Board is increasing its tariffs by 12,9 percent.

Source: Sowetan

South Africa wants Kyoto Protocol extended

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 23 April 2011

South Africa, which will host the next round of United Nations (UN) climate change talks in Durban in November, said on Wednesday that the Kyoto Protocol should be extended.

Durban cannot be the death of the Kyoto Protocol

South African environment minister Edna Molewa told the media at the South African parliament in Cape Town that South Africa does not want the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to be the end of the Kyoto Protocol.

The South African government views continuation of the protocol as critical, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported her as saying.

The Kyoto Protocol is a 1997 international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The first commitment period of the agreement expires in 2012.

COP17 aims to build on agreements reached during COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico. It also hopes to establish a new global climate change regime. Continue reading

Impending water restrictions for Durban

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 March 2011

Durban could face water restrictions as early as next year. This is the warming from eThekwini municipality water department head Neil Macleod, who said last week that recent good rains are the only reason restrictions have been avoided so far this year.

Rainwater Harvesting is a sustainable way of augmenting municipal supply

“The total rainfall for last year, for this region, was the fourth lowest on record. The dams at the beginning of this year were on average 20 percent lower than at the start of 2010. We typically have a series of wetter years followed by a series of dryer years. The wet years have continued for an extended period and have protected us for the statistical possibility of restrictions.

“If we’d had normal rainfall over the past three years, we would almost certainly be in the middle of water restrictions right now,” he said.

And the situation is likely to get worse. “For 2011, I do not see restrictions being introduced. But 2012 could be a different story. We are nearing the end of the summer rains and if we have a dry winter comparable to last year, then water restrictions in 2012 are almost inevitable,” he said.

Macleod’s comments come just two weeks after Professor Mike Muller, former Department of Water Affairs director-general and now commissioner of the government’s National Planning Commission, warned that South Africa will face a water crisis within the next decade.

He singled out the eThekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) and Joburg metros as the municipalities likely to first feel the shortages.

Muller told the Sunday Tribune yesterday that it is vital for cities to plan to ensure they avoided water crises. Continue reading

Blue flag won’t fly at Durban beaches

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 April 2010

A defiant eThekwini City Manager, Mike Sutcliffe, remains adamant that Blue Flags are not the way to go for Durban’s beaches.

He says the Blue Flag system, which tourism leaders in the province endorse, is found on relatively few beaches in few countries and does not apply to the major tourism destinations and economies of the world.

His defiant stand comes in the wake of a ruling by Mike Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, that all KZN municipalities with beaches will be compelled to join the internationally approved grading system for bathing beaches.

Sutcliffe’s latest spurning of Blue Flag status has raised the ire of hoteliers, who have welcomed Mabuyakhulu’s support for Durban beaches to fall in line with other KZN municipalities.

Asked what the city was doing to comply with Mabuyakhulu’s directive, Sutcliffe said he was still waiting to hear from the province.

“Few of the beaches in KZN would be able to comply with Blue Flag in the next 10 years; so it is unlikely the MEC’s approach will end up being the European one,” he said. Continue reading