Suspicions that many fell ill in December because of the Uvongo lagoon being toxic have proved true, reports the South Coast Herald.
South Coast doctors and hospital emergency wards were inundated with patients suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea over the festive season and many blamed it on the water from the lagoon.
Others blamed it on a seasonal “bug” doing the rounds throughout the country and advised people to be more hygienic. “Wash your hands,” they said on social media.
In the interim, Ugu municipality took samples of the water and sent them away for testing. Signs also warned people not to swim in the lagoon.
Ugu municipal manager DD Naidoo said the tests came back this week and showed that the lagoon was “very, very highly contaminated” with E.coli.
Anyone coming into contact with the water would definitely have contracted all the above symptoms.
The problems were reported to Ugu on December 20 and a team of environmentalists – including officials from the department of health – took samples and searched the entire area for signs of spillage.
There was none.
Investigations are continuing, but it seems that the lagoon was contaminated on or about December 19. There are various theories – from chemical toilets being emptied into the river and even a leak from the sewerage system hasn’t been ruled out – but it was a once-off problem.
Ugu has made an appeal to anyone with information to come forward to help with investigations.
January 5, 2017, 10.06am:
After a number of people had reportedly fallen ill with stomach-related complaints, the Ugu District Municipality conducted an internal investigation, reports the South Coast Herald.
According to a statement released by Ugu, the results of tests performed on the Uvongo River have indicated that both the river and the lagoon are in fact contaminated.
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“We have since issued public notices prohibiting any swimming or recreational activity in the Uvongo River until it has been cleared. Periodic tests are being conducted to monitor the levels of contamination in the river,” reads the statement.
“Physical inspections of our sewage treatment plants along the river have also been conducted and there has been no sign of any overflow. We have since broadened our scope of investigation beyond our infrastructure to other various possible sources of contamination.
“A team of experts has been set up to conduct this investigation, after which a conclusive report will be released pertaining to the source of contamination together with possible measures to be instituted thereof.”
The municipality stresses that the Uvongo River and lagoon should remain off limits until the contamination is pronounced clear.
– Caxton News Service