Microbiological evaluation of the Mhlathuze River, KwaZulu-Natal (RSA)

  • CC Bezuidenhout
  • N Mthembu
  • T Puckree
  • J. Lin


Continuous faecal pollution in source water is a global problem that is particularly debilitating to rural communities that are directly dependent on untreated source water for all their domestic and other purposes. The elevation of indicator bacteria levels (such as the faecal coliforms) in the water may pose a public health risk. This study reports the results of microbial monitoring of the Mhlathuze River over a 21-month period. Elevated levels of indicator micro-organisms (both faecal and total coliforms) and heterotrophic plate count bacteria were observed from March 1998 to November 1999. Surface water temperature and rainfall during this period appeared to be some of the factors affecting the increased bacterial counts. Bacteria isolated from the river included E. coli, Pseudomonas spp., Enterobacter spp. (detected frequently), Serratia spp., Klebsiella spp., and Aeromonas hydrophila (detected less frequently). This study generated some essential baseline information of the microbial population for a section of the river utilised for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes.

WaterSA Vol.28(3) 2002: 281-286

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0378-4738