Cape Town – It’s been six months since Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell intervened in the water pollution crisis at the Milnerton Lagoon and ordered the City to clean it up, but to no avail.
Residents said they had seen no improvement.
The Greater Table View Action Forum’s planning and biodiversity portfolio chairperson, David Ayres, said: “The problems with Diep River, the Table Bay nature reserve and the Milnerton lagoon have not been addressed. They all remain a huge City of Cape Town septic tank that has only been temporarily flushed by the recent rains. The City of Cape Town has done nothing to address the pollution issues that are coming from rampant densification.”
Ayres said the City had approved developments that would see an increase in the problem. “They do this in the knowledge that the Potsdam WasteWater plant and other critical infrastructure is unable to cope with this increased load,” he said.
A court showdown between the City and Milnerton residents is looming over the sewage in the lagoon.
In February, the department ordered the City to provide a report and action plan to address the problem. The City has been asked to also investigate other potential sources of pollution flowing from its stormwater canals into the Diep River Catchment and Milnerton Lagoon. On the department’s own investigation, the Green Scorpions conducted water quality samples in the affected area, and the results confirmed high levels of E. coli, ammonia and suspended solids.
The department’s head of communication, Rudolf van Jaarsveldt, said: “The City has submitted an amended action plan and commenced with clean-up operations of affected areas. However, there are a number of sources contributing towards the scope of pollution of the Diep River Catchment and Milnerton Lagoon, and it is the opinion of the department that more time is needed.”
Van Jaarsveldt said the department regularly engaged with the City over progress of the work undertaken in terms of the action plan and conducted compliance inspections.
“The National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Water and Sanitation are involved in this matter as well,” he said.
Mayco member for Water and Waste, Xanthea Limberg, said urgent maintenance at the Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Works had drastically improved the quality of the final effluent leaving the plant.
“Land is being invaded where it is not possible to provide toilets, and unlawfully erected structures are blocking access to the City’s sewers for maintenance There are a high number of property owners leasing to backyard tenants without providing proper sanitation,” she said.