SANParks warns of E. coli in Knysna estuary

Posted by Imogen Searra on 13 March 2019

SANParks has erected four signs around the Knysna Estuary warning that the area is unsafe for recreational use. This comes after high levels of the bacteria E. coli were detected in the water as a result of contamination from an unknown source.

Knysna’s park manager, Megan Taplin, said that the Ashmead Channel and specifically next to Cathy Park, Loerie Park and toward Costa Sarda are in no way safe to enter. ‘The unacceptably high levels of E. coli currently in this area make it unsafe for recreational use. No one should collect bait, fish, wade in the wate,r or swim in this area until the problem has been resolved,’ she said.

SANParks has stated that more signage will be erected until the levels are safe again. The safe level of E. coli must be lower than 500 colony-forming units or CFU (an estimate of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a single sample) per 100ml mark, as stipulated by the Department of Water and Sanitation’s guideline for recreation.

Last week, the Knysna Municipality confirmed that the Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) had encountered a chemical contamination at the beginning of February 2019, which may be the cause for the high levels of the harmful bacteria in the estuary.

Technical Services Director of Knysna Municipality Pavir Hariparsad said, ‘Once the problem was identified the Knysna Municipality, joined by Garden Route District and a Consultant, worked tirelessly to correct the bacteria levels to prevent contamination of the Knysna Estuary and to find the source of the harmful substance that resulted in the natural bacteria in our tanks dying off in the first place.’ 

He added, ‘We are working together with SANParks and Garden Route District Municipality to ensure that the levels within estuary returns to normal. Our estuary is possibly the most pristine in the country and I give you my assurance that we are doing everything in our power to ensure its wellbeing’.

Hariparsad has assured that the situation is being constantly monitored by the Knysna Municipality, the Garden Route District Municipality and SANParks. ‘Rest assured that not only have we done all in our power to pinpoint the source of the contamination, but are working tirelessly on finding ways to prevent future pollution of the estuary in the first place.’ said Hariparsad. 

The following areas have contaminated water: Ashmead channel, Queen Street, The Train Station, Long Street, Green Hole, Bongani, and outside the Waste Water Treatment Works

Note: The Heads, Bollard Bay, the Point, Salt River, Crabs Creek, Bigai, Leisure Island, the Waterfront, the main channel, and Belvidere are all compliant with the CFU per mm and are not currently affected by the contamination.


Image: Getaway

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