Durban's beaches not at blue flag level
Sewage washing up on KwaZulu-Natal's northern beaches and litter lining those in the south could stop eThekwini's plans to re-enter some of its beaches into the Blue Flag international beach grading programme.
Brighton Beach on the Bluff looks like a rubbish dump, but the eThekwini municipality is in the process of cleaning it up.
La Lucia resident Hugo Carlier said a damaged outfall sewer (pipe) in Waterloo, near Verulam, had, for the last year, caused sewage to wash ashore on the nearby uMhlanga beaches.
"Sewer effluent is running into the Ohlanga River and down to the uMhlanga Lagoon," he said. "It then gets washed out into the ocean and the current drives the effluent back towards the beaches."
In addition, the heavy rains that ravaged the province last month caused heaps of debris to wash up on the Bluff 's Brighton Beach.
"I have been living on the Bluff for 23 years and have never seen so much pollution on the beaches," said resident Karen Colvin.
Blue Flag status is awarded to beaches that meet internationally set standards of safety and security, environmental information and management, water quality and cleanliness.
Durban withdrew from the programme in 2008, but last month city manager S'bu Sithole said it would begin the process of re-applying for Blue Flag status for some of its beaches this year.
But the national Blue Flag programme co-ordinator Ted Knott said that when establishing a beach's Blue Flag status, cleanliness was a major deciding factor.
"We look for clean beaches," he said. When asked to comment on images of Brighton Beach, Knott said: "I'm not in a position to speak for eThekwini's beaches, but if this was a Blue Flag beach then the flag would have to be temporarily withdrawn."
The city's water and sanitation department is in the process of investigating the damaged outfall sewer at Waterloo.
The deputy head of the parks, leisure and cemeteries department, Christo Swart, said there were 20 staff working seven days a week to clean up Ansteys and Brighton beaches.
Clean-up operations began last month, but there had been challenges.
"Every spell of rain brings down more debris," said Swart, "And, beaches beyond Brighton beach are accessible only by bakkies, not by larger vehicles. This limits the amount of dirt that can be removed at one time."
He said the clean-up would continue until all debris and litter had been removed.