Alarm over Margate beach sewage spill

Sewage flows from one of four manholes near the river which leads to Margate main beach.

THE public has been warned to stay away from Margate and Ramsgate lagoons until further notice. Alarm bells were sounded by residents in the early hours of Tuesday morning, when they noticed chunks of raw sewage and toilet paper floating into the Nkongweni River. The latest spillage is yet another in many months of sewage spill at the Waste Water Treatment Works in Margate near the Margate Bowling Club.

Millions of litres of sewage were seen flowing into the Nkongweni and Bhilanhlolo Rivers.

The overflowing sewage has outraged many Margate residents. Quentin Searle said he couldn’t believe what he had witnessed. “Ugu regards the problem so lightly. Four stormwater drains near the river were overflowing with sewage the whole of Tuesday, which went into the lagoon and made its way onto Margate beach. This is a huge problem and Ugu needs to explain how this occurs,” said Mr Searle.

Another homeowner expressed his concern over the lack of proactive maintenance by Ugu. Surely there are alarm bells that could have notified Ugu of the problem before this spillage took place. If this continues every year this makes it difficult for Margate to get back onto the Blue Flag programme. Management and staff at Ugu must wake up, especially the man at the top,” he said.

Councillor Dave Watson said the lagoon water is extremely dangerous to public health. “The mouths have not yet breached so the beach is still in a satisfactory condition but this could change with little notice. The water levels at the lagoons have risen. If Margate stinks, the whole South Coast stinks, from a tourism point of view,” said Cllr Watson.

‘No swimming’ signs have been erected at Margate and Ramsgate lagoons and one can certainly smell the effluent from the banks of the river.

Ugu District Municipality has discovered that two of its sewage pump stations situated in Margate and Ramsgate have experienced pump failures causing sewage spillage into both the lagoons.

Spokesman for Ugu District Municipality, France Zama said yesterday (Wednesday) that the Ramsgate treatment plant had been fixed. “Environmental tests are being carried out on the Ramsgate lagoon

“One of the main pumps failed at Margate treatment plant and we had to pump sewage into the river in order to fix the pump, which is situated at the bottom of the plant. A clean-up process is currently being conducted and the municipality is contemplating closing Margate beach. We are working with various environmental health authorities to get the Environmental Impact Assessments to detect the extent of contamination caused by the spillages. We have asked the authorities to obtain permission to breach the Margate lagoon,” said Mr Zama. He called on the public to stay away from the Margate lagoon.



MARGATE and Ramsgate beaches are closed until further notice.

The closure of the two main beaches on the South Coast has been caused by yet another sewage spill at the Waste Water Treatment Works in Margate near the Margate Bowling Club.

Since early yesterday morning, millions of litres of sewage have been flowing into the Nkongweni and Bhilanhlolo Rivers which make their way onto Margate’s main beach and Ramsgate beach.

It is believed that the spill has been caused by mechanical failure at a station. There are currently no signs up at  these beaches warning visitors of the contamination.

The Herald visited the Waste Water Treatment Works yesterday. The photos and video footage speak for themselves.

The stench along river was horrendous and one could easily get sick from the smell. This reporter could even smell the sewage at the entrance to the bowling club.

Read more in tomorrow’s Herald for a full report and more photos.

Share your thoughts on this latest disaster by leaving a comment below.


Sugan Naidoo

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