DURBAN - The eThekwini Municipality has reopened all beaches that were closed due to high levels of E. coli with immediate effect, excluding the Blue Lagoon/uMngeni Beach.
The municipality had closed South Beach, North Beach, Bay of Plenty, Suncoast Beach, Country Club Beach and uMngeni Beach on Friday due to concerns about E. coli.
The levels of bacteria had been compounded by the unceasing vandalism of one of the city's sewage pump stations and abnormally heavy rains that were washing waste from informal settlements along the uMngeni River into the watercourse.
eThekwini spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said that after the latest results of tests carried out at all beaches affected by high levels of E. coli, the city had taken a decision to reopen them for bathing and other sporting activities with immediate effect. However, this excluded the Blue Lagoon/uMngeni Beach.
“This decision excludes the Blue Lagoon/uMngeni Beach, where E. coli levels are still not permitting for it to be opened to the public,” Mayisela said.
“In all other beaches, test results have shown a substantial decrease of the bacteria to acceptable standards.”
Mayisela said the city would continue to monitor the Blue Lagoon/uMngeni Beach and inform the public once the levels of E. coli had decreased to standards that were safe for the public to enjoy.
He added that in the interest of public safety and with heavy downpours expected in catchment areas of rivers that empty their waters onto the city’s beaches, regular tests were going to be conducted to ensure good water quality.
The city also thanked the public for their unrelenting co-operation when the beaches were closed, and reiterated its heartfelt apology to all its stakeholders for being on the receiving end of the closures.
On Tuesday, the city had said that Durban beaches closed due to high levels of E. coli would remain so despite bacteria levels decreasing.
That was according to the results of the latest tests the city had conducted at all the affected beaches.
This decision came after the eThekwini Municipality had immediately closed and then reopened the northern beaches between last Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
In the interest of the public, the city decided to temporarily close North, Bay, Battery, Country Club 1 and 2, eThekwini and Laguna beaches after the uMngeni River discharged abnormally murky water onto the beach.
However, tests revealed that the beaches were safe for bathing and all sporting activities and they were reopened.
The results showed that the water was free of any pollution that may pose a threat to life. The water was murky because of hyacinths, which usually increase during summer months.