City closes Rietvlei on account of E Coli – again

The City has closed Rietvlei due to E Coli – yet again.

The City announced yet another closure of the Rietvlei waterbody on Wednesday morning December 29.

Once considered suitable as a city harbour in the 1960s, Rietvlei has been marred by high levels of E Coli and has been a headache for the City over the years.

E coli is a bacteria commonly found in the stomachs of warm-blooded animals and humans and is spread to water through, among others, sewage overflows, faulty sewage systems, and agricultural run-off.

Pollution rose in Rietvlei in May, forcing the City to close the waterbody in June only to partially re-open it in November, the Tabletalk reported.

A warning issued in June by the City cautioned residents that Rietvlei was out of bounds and that they stay at least 150m clear of it. When it reopened partially in November, the City warned the water was not safe for “intermediate contact”, but it opened for water sports.

Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse’s (OUTA) Andrea van Heerden said there was concern about the City’s unclear action about the possibility of algal bloom caused by high nutrients from the sewage.

“The City closed the Rietvlei waterbody earlier this morning as a precautionary measure following water quality concerns,” the City said in its statement this week.

The latest test results received on the evening of Tuesday December 28, the City said, “show high levels of faecal coliforms (Escherichia coli) within the waterbody, which indicate an elevated risk to human health”.

The City said the E Coli count had increased beyond the acceptable threshold within the main waterbody.

“The City is currently investigating the causes of the recent increase in the E coli count. We apologise for the inconvenience, and can confirm that this is a top priority and is receiving our highest attention,” the City statement said.

Moreover, the City said, other aquatic sections of the Table Bay Nature Reserve, including the Diep River, Milnerton Lagoon and estuary, remained closed due to elevated E coli counts. However, the terrestrial sections of the Table Bay Nature Reserve remain open.

The City added that it would keep monitoring the water quality at Rietvlei, the public slipway and pier, and other aquatic sections.