Burst and blocked sewer pipes combined with illegally discharged factory effluent are decimating wildlife in some of the city’s rivers and streams.
The Mkondeni Spruit, which runs through Hayfields and the Maritzburg Golf Club and leads into the Duzi, is one example.
The small murky stream, scattered with pieces of toilet paper and frothy effluent, runs below a number of houses in Hayfields, with one resident saying the stench and absence of wildlife in and around the river is “concerning”.
Hayfields resident Veronica Tooke said when she moved into her current home in Collins Road five years ago she would often enjoy the sights of fish, crabs and frogs swimming in the stream. However, she said in the last two years she had seen a decline in the wildlife and instead, an increase in sewage flowing into the stream.
“The sewage comes from the top of Hayfields, down to a pipe at the bottom of our property to take it to the Darvill waste water works,” she said
“When it rains all the storm water floods the river and puts a lot of pressure onto the sewage pipe, which has many cracks. This then leaks into the river.”
“You can see the toilet paper in the river and on the banks.
Duzi Umngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) pollution control officer Sanele Vilakazi said leaking pipes combined with a mass of blocked sewers and factory effluent in the storm water drains, was a “huge issue” in Pietermaritzburg.
“Just from looking at the river, there are tell-tale signs it is not healthy,” he said. “The water is murky and there is some froth in the water which indicates it is factory effluent.”
Vilakazi said that the stream near the Maritzburg Golf Club was turned “blood red” after an effluent spill last week.
“The discharge from the sewer line stretches from Mkondeni all the way to the Duzi. Our Duct monitors do their best to find and report the leaks. There are hot spots where a line will be fixed but in a matter of days it is broken again.
“The sewage blockages come from people misusing the sewer line system.”
He said people were flushing items down the toilet that should not be in the system. “The piping system cannot handle it and when it enters the river it increases the nutrients and decreases the oxygen in the water, which harms wildlife.”
Vilakazi said there were still signs of the factory effluent in the river but the source had not yet been identified.
The Msunduzi Municipality had not responded to media queries at the time of going to print yesterday evening.