Zeekoevlei, which is a popular fishing spot and playground for the residents of Pelican Park, is said to be tainted by pollution and litter. Residents in Zeekoevlei were left astounded on Friday after mounds of fish washed up on the shores of the lake on Fisherman’s Walk. The City of Cape Town declared the water contaminated by the Herpes Koi Virus.
Renowned water expert, Dr. Anthony Turton, explained that the Herpes Khoi virus is a naturally occurring virus and is an indication that the system is distressed. In this instance, the virus has reduced the functioning of the immune system of the fish, and created an environment suitable for increased bacteria and viruses.
He further noted that numerous factors have impacted water bodies found in South Africa. These include; the overloading of rivers, the extraction of huge volumes of water, and the drought that is currently being experienced.
He further noted that water bodies in South Africa have been severely impaired by “dysfunctional sewage works and agricultural run-off.”
Turton explained that this convergence of environmental issues give rise to pathogens that result in the death of large bodies of fish.
Zeekoevlei Ward Councillor, Shaun August, asserted that the water found in the Zeekoevlei dam has tested low for Escherichia coli (E. coli), which refers to the internationally accepted standard for the testing of water quality.
E. coli tests for the presence of bacteria from the colon of humans and animals. If an E. coli reading is high it is an indication that E. coli is impacting the water quality.
Turton further explained that “If a water body is severely polluted with garbage, dead fish, or if the water “smells bad”, then it may be contaminated.
Turton urged individuals to refrain from tasting water bodies within South Africa, as all water in South Africa, at present, is considered “suspect”.
A growing phenomenon in South Africa, Turton noted, is Eutrophication, which arises from the enrichment of water and gives rise to blue-green algae. This is neither a plant nor an animal, but rather a bacterium capable of photosynthesising. Turton asserts that in some cases this bacterium has the potential to release a potent toxin.
“If there are any blue-green algae [present in water]then direct contact with that should be avoided at all cost.”
Councillor August stated that the vlei, naturally, has a distinctive smell and asserted that the vlei is not littered with garbage. He, furthermore, stated that the water of the vlei is clean, and does not pose a threat to humans.
Turton explained that the scent produced by vlei’s is due to an anaerobic process; a putrefying process that takes place in the absence of oxygen.
“A wetland, vlei, or swamp is naturally an environment where you have anaerobic processors taking place, and is therefore, naturally smelly.”
The occurrence of fish dying, Turton asserted is, however, an indication that the system is experiencing “some kind of disturbance.”
“In this case it does not appear to be E. coli, I must [therefore]congratulate the local authorities for keeping a well-managed sewage system – this is not the norm in the country,” Turton concluded.
VOC (Thakira Desai)