Enough is enough! No more sewage in our river! Shapes of Africa joined in as everyone ganged up on the lowly municipality and Verulam sewage plant to try and save the uMdloti River from extinction.

When Roving Reporters got ahold of the story 2 weeks ago, they highlighted the tardiness of the authorities in cleaning up the mess in their own back yard. They made a huge stink about an even huger stink: raw sewage polluting a precious water cathment, wildlife area and recreational destination.

Check what Janis Theron had to say first on 24 January:

The filthy state of KwaZulu-Natal rivers north of Durban has raised its ugly head again this January with the unabated sewage pollution of the uMdloti River which runs past Verulam into the Indian Ocean at La Mercy recreational area.

Irate Mount Moreland residents have taken up the cudgels against their local municipality and the Verulam Sewage Works in a bid to stem critical environmental and health hazards in the area.

Black Stinky Water

A series of complaints from residents began on 14 January when the uMdloti River turned black downstream of the Verulam Sewage Works and the stench of raw human waste became overwhelming.

To date, there is no clarification from the municipality or the Verulam Sewage Works. The Water and Sanitation Department reported that their investigation was ongoing. Their lab results would take some time as there were problems with infrastructure. Their recent site inspection of the Verulam Sewage Works found no obvious signs of dumping.

What they did find, however, was four infrastructural problems, including overflowing manholes, upstream of the sewage works. These were due to be fixed in the coming week, before month end. Meanwhile the stench of sewage remains.

Matthew Hattingh and Fred Kockett at Roving Reporters took the bull by the horns and made the guys in the wrong squirm a bit:

“Roving Reporters this week spoke to an independent expert with a keen insight into pollution on the river and problems facing the authorities.

The expert, who declined to be named, said eThekwini needed to expand preventative maintenance of its sewerage and roll out networks to informal settlements.

Exacerbating the problem were pressures from climate change and, more significantly, widespread illegal connections of stormwater drains into sewers. As many as one in five households in eThekwini had illegal connections and as a consequence parts of the City’s sewerage network could not cope when it rained heavily and overflowed into rivers before the waste could be treated.

Serious Problems with Sludge Disposal

Compounding this, many of eThekwini’s 27 wastewater treatment works faced serious problems with the disposal of sludge. This is the solid matter that remains after effluent was discharged into rivers.

The expert, who has many years’ experience in the industry, said sludge was supposed to be removed and disposed of at municipal landfill sites, or ideally used as fertiliser. But this often didn’t happen efficiently.”

There is Hope

But there is hope! Shapes of Africa cares about the Environment and we believe that this issue WILL be resolved! We will never give up!

What do YOU think about this mess? Send us a message!