A microbal study of water quality in the marine environment off Durban : 1964-1988.
Livingstone, Douglas James
MetadataShow full item record
wastewater from the harbour mouth with the outgoing tides, while the discharge from a sewer on the Bluff into the surf-zone amounted to 20 x 103 m3 /day. In addition, there existed more than 90 beach pipes and storrnwater drains (not all of them legal) , about one third of which carried contaminative material on to the beaches and into the surf. Twenty-eight sampling stations were established between the Mgeni River and Isipingo and subjected to detailed bacteriological surveillance, prior to the construction of a pair of submarine outfalls to serve the region's disposal requirements . A microbial system of evaluating seawater quality was developed using Escherichia coli I, parasite ova, staphylococci, salmonellae (including Salmonella typhi) and the salinity as indicators. A comprehensive "before" picture was therefore created against which to measure future changes in the sea off Durban. In 1968/69 the pair of submarine pipelines was commissioned with their attendant treatment plants. The harbour effluent was diverted to the new complex , and pollution from the minor outfalls was progressively halted with their wastes similarly joined to the new works. The system of water quality gradation was applied to the surf-zone and out to sea to measure the efficacy of the new pipelines, providing an "after" picture . Throughout the subsequent engineering innovation of sludge disposa l via the outfalls (which proved successful), and during climatic extremes involving a severe drought (with stringent water consumption restrictions), cyclones and catastrophic floods, the classification system continued to function satisfactorily , covering 25 years in all: alterations in the water quality were shown to be invariably a consequence of changes effected upon the shore or meteorological events. The system has also proved useful in identifying and measuring the impact of contaminative foci in Cape waters and at Richards Bay. The relevant oceanography and current dynamics, the rationale for the selection of the indicators used and the methodology, along with more general aspects of marine pollution and associated risks are discussed. Finally, the feasibility is examined of curtailing the numbers of parameters measured and simplifying the classification system while retaining its usefulness and serviceability as an instrument for assessing the impact of domestic effluent on the marine environment off Durban.