Brown water sparks sewage spill fears at Lagoon Beach

Foul-smelling brown water at Lagoon Beach had Milnerton residents worried about a possible sewage spill, but the City of Cape Town has ruled that out after testing the water.

Koos Retief, the biodiversity area manager for the Table Bay Nature Reserve said the discolouration of the water was possibly caused by fine sediments in the soil flowing from the Diep River.

Residents raised a red flag when they detected a bad smell near Lagoon Beach and noticed that the water resembled sewage.

They aired their concerns about a possible health hazard on the Milnerton Neighbours Facebook page.

Milnerton resident Sharon Kaplan said the water had smelt bad for a while and resident Caroline Marx said it was an ongoing problem and residents should log official complaints with the City.

“There is much that concerns me about the state of the lagoon water. I will be having a follow-up meeting, hopefully soon, with City of Cape Town role-players.

“Report whenever something appears abnormal. Without people reporting incidents as they occur, it is difficult to force the City to take sufficient and sustained action to properly resolve the problems,” said Ms Marx.

Lagoon Beach resident Jason Smith asked whether the water was safe for young children to paddle in and Milnerton resident Desiré Harmse posted a picture of a dead rat, which she said she had found on the beach at the weekend.

The City’s scientific services department (SSD) took samples of the water on Thursday August 4 after residents logged complaints and sent an inquiry to the Table Bay Nature Reserve calling for test to be done.

City spokeswoman Priya Reddy said the tests had found no evidence of a sewage spill. The odour, she said, was likely caused by the sea water and a smell similar to that of seaweed.

Furthermore, she said, the City had found no evidence of a rodent infestation.

“The only possible (rat) source identified is a site where there used to be a derelict property, which is now being demolished.

“While the City had found no evidence of a ‘health nuisance’, Ms Reddy said the environmental health department would “monitor the situation”.

Mr Retief said organic matter from the Diep River or fine sediments in soil dislodged during rainfall could have given the water a brown tint.

“There are 15 sampling points within the City which are reviewed on a monthly basis to ensure water safety, but sampling is done more frequently when residents request it,” said Mr Retief.