The Knysna estuary is a natural system where levels of bacteria can fluctuate at any time. Higher than acceptable levels of ecoli were recorded recently from 2 consecutive samples collected from at least 14 points in the Knysna estuary. SANParks will be putting up signage to warn against full body recreational activities as stipulated by the Department of Water Affairs regulation by this Friday (the 28th November 2014).
Authorities (SANParks, Eden District Municipality, Knysna Municipality and the Knysna Basin Project) have agreed sampling for the upcoming season must be collected from the same points in the estuary every 2 weeks starting from this week. Recreational areas will be prioritized including and not limited to the Heads, Green Hole, Bollard Bay, Ashmead, the Waterfront area and others.
The suspected cause for spikes in ecoli counts can be attributed to recent power outages, combined with incidents such as sewerage leaks in Nelson Street (CBD). It is a global challenge and not unique to Knysna only that the older sewer systems carry sewage and rain water in the same pipes and are at greater risk for sewage spills. During heavy rains, these pipes cannot handle the volume of stormwater and wastewater, and untreated sewage is often discharged.
The Municipality’s efforts to address this matter include a sewer upgrade for the CBD.
Members of the public can access recent results and follow up samples every week on www.knysna.gov.za/lagoon (yes, it’s not a lagoon, it’s an estuary) Feedback after the next set of samples will also be provided.
Press release by SANParks.