The Kouga municipality in the Eastern Cape has temporarily closed the Sea Cow estuary in Jeffreys Bay to fishing and swimming indefinitely after E. coli was found in the water.
Hattingh Bornman, mayor of the Kouga municipality, says this is an essential precautionary measure “until the quality of the water improves to satisfactory levels”.
“We do everything in our power to ensure that the water is clean and safe for everyone,” says Bornman.
“While the mouth part of the estuary tested clean, the reserve side indicated unacceptable levels of E. coli.”
Bornman says that the Seekoei estuary has not been functioning properly for some time because human pollution activities have given rise to a change in the natural ecological function of the estuary.
“This is exacerbated by exploitation and irrigation dams located higher up in the catchment area, as well as the ongoing drought experienced in the area and the effects of climate change, such as changes in temperature and rainfall.
“In addition, the Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp wastewater treatment works are not functioning optimally,” says Bornman.
“However, we are doing everything in our power to correct this problem as quickly as possible.”
This includes the following plans:
- After an estimated R1.5 million has already been spent on the renovation of the Jeffreys Bay wastewater treatment works since January, constant load shedding continues to cause strain on the system. A generator will therefore be installed on the premises within the next three weeks, he says
- The R42 million MIG project will involve the upgrading of the Humansdorp wastewater treatment works, after which the entire site will be renovated.
- A section of the car park near the mouth of the estuary will be removed to ensure the natural flow of the estuary.
- The estuary management committee and plan will be re-established.
- Possible sewage discharges from private households will be a high priority and will be monitored.
- Water quality will be tested twice a week and the results made public.
“The health and safety of our residents and visitors is our first priority,” says Bornman.
“Information will be released regularly to keep residents informed.”