Cape Town – Residents of Fish Hoek have raised concerns after a sewage spill discharged into the lighthouse stormwater outlet on Fish Hoek beach when the pump station failed due to load shedding on Sunday.
Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers and Residents Association chairperson Brian Youngblood said: “We are concerned because escherichia coli (E. coli) globally usually causes beaches to be closed and thus, we’d lose our Blue Flag status. The (E. coli) bacteria can sicken swimmers, cause diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and occasionally more serious problems.” Youngblood said residents were “disgusted”.
“This is raw sewage that is being dumped on to our beach. We have had a response that Fish Hoek 1 pump station at Shoprite and Main Road tripped its electrical switch when trying to restart after load shedding. However, this pump station has its own generator set.
“Self-resetting switches have been available for a long time. We requested installation of these switches from the City’s pump station manager for the southern district in December, but he never replied. Thus, we escalated to our local sub-council for placement on their February agenda,” Youngblood said.
Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl said: “The fault was attended to and contained on Monday, and although it is likely that the strong south-easterly wind that was blowing would have created a high dispersion rate, near shore currents from the wave action may have resulted in some long-shore drift.
“As such, residents are asked to exercise caution when using this section of the beach until water quality tests results are processed and confirm that the effects of the spill have been reversed.”
Kuhl said that while pump stations were fitted with a mechanism to sound an alarm and send an SMS to management when a fault occurred, this did not happen on Sunday as the server did not come back online after load shedding.
Community services and health mayco member Zahid Badroodien said: “When adverse events occur that may affect water quality, it is standard protocol to erect warning signage. Small sewage spills that may occur during load shedding are an abnormal, temporary situation. With wave dispersion, the risk is rapidly mitigated.”