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Court action looming over sewerage spill in Nahoon Estuary

Facebook (Nahoon Estuary FB page)


Visibly thick and brown sewerage sludge with a horrible stench that leaves a canoe paddler out of breath has been spilling into the Nahoon River in East London for years.

This vivid description of the current dire conditions of the river is included in East London's Border Canoe Club's affidavit that forms part of Nahoon Estuary's civil case against the Buffalo City Municipality (BCM).

Border Canoe Club chairman, Christopher Douglas, says when he first started taking up the sport of paddling in 2009 the quality of water was good, seldom with a trace of visible sewerage in the water.

However, over the years, the quality of water has deteriorated to such an extent that it is impossible to paddle there.

Douglas says not only does the sewerage make it impossible for athletes to canoe but it has also become a health risk to the paddling community.

"Although paddlers are in a boat, it is impossible to avoid contact with the water," he said.

Douglas says diarrhoeal disease affects the paddling community as the dirty water splashes onto the athletes’ faces and mouths.

Douglas says Border Canoe Club also hosts paddlers from Germany once a year in an exchange program which he says has a positive spin-off for local tourism.

However, this initiative is also under threat due to the condition of the river.

Concerns listed in the affidavit by the Border Canoe Club are just some of the reasons the Nahoon Estuary has decided to drag BCM to court.

Nahoon Estuary Management Forum Chairperson Christo Theart says the sewerage comes from the Nompumelelo Township.

Theart says according to the Municipality there are a lot of blockages in sewerage pipes in the township caused by residents who do not know how to properly use waterborne sanitation.

He says every week municipal officials take samples of the water in the estuary and 70? of the time there is sewerage in the water.

Theart says this is a health risk and affects the ecosystem in the Estuary.

He says the Estuary has an approved management plan that was promulgated by the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2016.

After struggling for years to get it passed, the plan was adopted by the council in 2019.

However, no money has been made available to implement any of the actions in the plan.

Theart says that legally, the municipality has to make provisions for sewerage spills but this hasn't been done. "We had regular meetings with the Municipality for two years but every time it resulted in promises and there was no action. This is why the Forum has decided to take the Municipality to court to get an order that will force them to implement the plan.”

AlgoaFM News tried to reach Buffalo City Municipality for comment but to no avail.

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