Path cleared for sewage plant upgrade

The Potsdam sewage plant is set for a R5 billion upgrade.

The City has dismissed appeals to halt the R5 billion upgrade of the Potsdam sewage plant.

The upgrade has been delayed repeatedly since 2011, but now two major contracts have been chosen to carry out the project, which is set to more than double the plant’s daily processing capacity from 47 million litres to 100 million litres by the time of the project’s expected completion in 2027.

A public meeting to discuss the ongoing sewage crisis in the area will be held by the City in the council chambers, on the sixth floor of the Cape Town Civic Centre on Monday March 13, at 6.30pm.

Caroline Marx, from the Milnerton Central Residents’ Association, said they were glad the project was moving forward, but questioned how the City planned to deal with effluent that did not meet safety standards in the interim.

“What action is the City taking to resolve the other well known pollution sources such as the Erica Road outfall opposite Milnerton High School? What are the City’s plans to mitigate the dreadful stench that hangs over the area on many days? It is hoped that at the public meeting on Monday March 13, the City will finally commit to practical solutions with timelines to solve these problems,” she said.

Ms Marx encouraged the public to attend next week’s meeting.

Acting mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Siseko Mbandezi, said the City had been doing remedial work at Potsdam to improve the treatment of effluent, including maintenance and repairs; refurbishing primary settlement tanks to reduce the loads to the bioreactor; and building a containing wall around a reed bed to increase its capacity and prevent contaminants entering the Theo Marais canal.

The City was also taking short-term measures at the Milnerton Lagoon to deal with diffuse sources of pollution, including placing sandbags at the Erica Road outfall and installing litter traps at identified stormwater outfalls

More details about these efforts can be found on the City’s website.

The project comprises a tender for mechanical and electrical infrastructure and one for civil construction.

“Residents are assured due legal process is being followed so we can see the upgrade become a reality,” said Mr Mbandezi, adding that in the meantime, the City would continue with remedial efforts to improve treated effluent discharged from the Potsdam plant.

Carl Phillips, of Flamingo Vlei, said he could smell sewage every day and he doubted whether anything would change soon.

“Yes, they say that they are working on solutions constantly. However I don’t see any of that happening. All I know is that on most days, I feel like I can’ breathe. It is terrible living here, and it seems to me this is getting worse every year I stay in Table View.”

Another resident, Tisha Moore, said she and her family had been thinking of moving for a while.

“This can’t be a safe way to live. I keep thinking this is going to get better, but we just can’t handle it anymore. When there are floods, winds, in the mornings, veld fires etc, it seems like the smell gets stronger. I feel for those living even closer to Potsdam.”