‘Heads must roll’ over lagoon pollution

The City of Cape Town has erected a sign to warn the public of the polluted water at Milnerton lagoon.

The level of pollution in the Milnerton lagoon keeps climbing with the latest water tests revealing the E coli levels in the Diep River is a staggering 57 times the safe limit, according to Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA).

The amount of E coli should not exceed 1 000 parts per 100ml of water, before it is diluted with fresh or sea water said Andread Korff, OUTA Legal Project Manager, in a press release on Wednesday March 4.

Between January and February four independent water tests had been conducted just below the Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW). The results show a clear spike in the pollution of the Lagoon, said Ms Korff.

On the same day the City of Cape Town’s mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg visited Dunoon for the City’s “door-to-door education and awareness drive” about sewer blockages.

According to a press release issued by the City, 30 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) employees have been visiting residents of Dunoon “to have face-to-face conversations about sewer blockages, why they occur and how to prevent them”.

According to the release, workers had flipcharts illustrating how the sewer reticulation and stormwater system works and the importance of preventing anything other than human waste from being disposed into it. Residents were also asked about their “disposal habits” to help the City better understand underlying factors that motivate illegal dumping into the system.

At a public meeting held last month Ms Korff slammed the city for pointing fingers to informal settlements like Dunoon and Joe Slovo as the main culprits of the lagoon’s pollution (“Lagoon pollution out of hand,” Tabletalk, February 26).

She said the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning’s own tests confirmed Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Works is a major cause of pollution.

Last month OUTA wrote to the City calling for action to end the pollution and City has arranged to meet with the civil rights organisation on Wednesday March 18.

Meanwhile, the City says the door-to-door education and awareness drive is one component of a broader, multi-faceted strategy to reduce pollution in the Diep River catchment area.

Ms Limberg said while infrastructural investment is a large component of the overall project, human behaviour is critical to minimise our impact on the environment.

The programme will run until June.