ALERT: Umbilo River off-limits after wastewater treatment system fails

STAY out of the Umbilo River is the warning from eThekwini Municipality today (Monday, 17 July), following a failure at the wastewater treatment works.

Two process units at the Umbilo wastewater treatment works have failed.

“These were mechanical equipment failures (syphon failures on the clarifier and centre bearing failure on the primary settling tank) which have led to the malfunction of these two units. The units had to be put offline to effect the necessary repairs, resulting in only 50% plant availability and overloading of the remaining primary settling tank and clarifier. This led to the process being compromised, with the remaining units unable to handle the load and partially treated effluent being discharged to the river,” reads a statement from the municipality.

Repairs were made and the units are now working again.

“It should take a further two weeks to recover the process to full compliance standards. The effluent is currently being disinfected to reduce public health impacts on the river. The river will be aerated to increase oxygen levels and assist aquatic life. It will also be monitored and sampled daily with samples being sent to the laboratory for testing.

The community is prohibited from using the river water below the treatment works for consumption or any recreational activities during this period. The affected areas will be demarcated with relevant signage. The municipality will undertake all necessary action to rehabilitate the river once the treatment works reaches full compliance.

We regret any inconvenience caused by this situation which was beyond our control. We thank the affected communities for their patience and understanding.”

The Umbilo River runs adjacent to the M7 and discharges into the harbour.


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Erin Hanekom

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