City outlines plans to restore lagoon

About 200 people attended the public meeting at the Leibrandt van Niekerk Hall in Table View on Wednesday November 30.

The City has outlined a range of proposals to tackle pollution at the Milnerton Lagoon.

Officials spoke about plans to restore the lagoon, using both short-term and long-term methods, during a meeting attended by 200 residents at the Leibrandt van Niekerk Hall, in Table View, on Wednesday November 30.

This follows a meeting at the Milnerton library in early September when residents threatened a rates boycott and called for the lagoon to be declared a disaster. They claimed it was hurting their property values (“Rates boycott threat over poo lagoon,” Tabletalk, September 14, 2022).

Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews said the City planned to restore the lagoon over the coming years through multibillion-rand sewerage and stormwater infrastructure upgrades, including on-the-ground pollution-mitigation measures.

The aim is to close off pollution sources to the lagoon, dredge the waterbody and remove the sediment containing the build-up of pollution.

The City’s coastal manager, Greg Oelofse, said 31 residents’ submissions on fighting pollution in the lagoon had been considered and summarised into 18 submissions.

This after the City appointed a team of experts in October to prepare a clean-up plan for the Milnerton Lagoon.

The residents’ submissions included building community ablution blocks in informal settlements in the area; diverting stormwater channels away from the river; creating a retention pond at the Erica Way outfall detention pond; and widening of the river mouth.

Mayoral advisory committee chairperson on water quality and wetlands Alex Lansdowne said the idea of improving water quality at the lagoon had three goals: upgrading the Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works and sewage infrastructure in the catchment area, insulating the vlei from pollution sources and rehabilitating the catchment area.

Future goals would include bigger interventions such as upgrades to the Koeberg Pump Station, removal of sludge at the bottom of the lagoon and further infrastructure upgrades at stormwater outlets.

Milnerton Central Residents’ Association environmental head Caroline Marx said an independent water test she had done at an effluent discharge point at Potsdam on Friday November 4 recorded 750000 E-coli.

“The water at the lagoon was grey and I could tell that something was very wrong, so I had the water test done there after being told that Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works was doing fine and there were no major spills,” she said.

She said the tests were extremely costly and that she relied on funds from the community to pay for them, when the City should know what is being discharged into the river and have a sense of responsibility to be transparent with its findings and tell the community.

MCRA chairman Bouwe van der Eems said he was happy to see that residents’ concerns and suggestions to restore the lagoon had been taken into account.

“While a lot has been done this far, some of us residents are still frustrated because residents’ lives have not yet been improved. Guest houses are losing business, homeowners are struggling to sell their properties at market value and many residents are experiencing health problems,” he said.

Milnerton Lagoon, once a thriving estuary and home to a wide range of fish, prawns and birdlife, is dying because of high levels of pollution caused by effluent from the nearby Potsdam sewage lant, say residents. Picture: Supplied