Plan to expand poo plant

The Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works will undergo an R800 million upgrade over the next six years to double its capacity.

The Potsdam sewage plant will get a multi-million rand expansion without the need for it to encroach on homes in the area, says the City of Cape Town.

The City plans to spend R800 million over the next six years to more than double the plant’s capacity, from 47 million litres a day to 100 million litres a day.

Some older structures would be demolished for the expansion planned on about five hectares of the plant’s site, along Koeberg Road, said Xanthea Limberg, Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy.

“This is why this is a sensitive and complicated upgrade as it must be done on the existing site,” said Ms Limberg.

The City has already awarded a R35 million tender to Bigen Africa Services (Pty) Ltd.

“The tender for the professional services for the engineering designs for the capacity upgrade has already been awarded and is currently going through a public participation process as the project will go beyond three financial years.

“Further tenders to complete the major capital infrastructure projects will be issued in later years and will cost an estimated R800 million,” said Ms Limberg.

According to the City, the plant, which is near Rietvlei Nature Reserve and Milnerton Lagoon, is important, as its western boundary borders the Diep River into which treated effluent is discharged.

“It is important to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to deal with urban expansion in an environmentally sustainable manner as a key component of this project,” said the City’s statement.

Ms Limberg denied the project was linked to the number of sewer-pipe bursts and spills seen in the area.

There has been a flood of complaints about pipe bursts in the Milnerton area in recent weeks (“Burst of concern,” Tabletalk, October 10).

“The City conducts widespread maintenance, replacement and upgrades of its reticulation network throughout the year. Proactive upgrading of infrastructure is evidence of a responsible and well-run administration. An example of this proactive management of resources and technology is how the City has achieved the lowest overall water losses of any South African metro.

“As a City, our overall water losses stand at 16% versus the national average of 36%,” she said.

Chairwoman of the Greater Table View Action Forum Karen Davis said: “This is a bit of a brain teaser as whilst we are fully aware that water is our most precious resource and being able to treat current waste water to re-use can only help the situation long term, I do question the exorbitant cost of this project.”

She said R800 million could build a lot of houses or greatly improve law enforcement.

“I guess the argument then comes in that homes without sufficient water are also a problem, so it is damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” she said.

“It would be interesting to know how many companies tendered for this project and if the actual bottom-line was negotiated.

“Another concern is also the current pipes and sewers — as we know, these are constantly bursting in our area, due to lack of maintenance and ageing, so I sincerely hope that they have budgeted for further repairs as this project rolls out.”

Sandra Dickson, from activist group Stop COCT, welcomed the upgrade saying it was “well overdue”.

“The last major upgrade for this facility was done in 2008, which is 10 years ago, and one wonders why this was left for so long.

“We would like to see plans to effectively treat the wastewater to a level where it can be re-used on a wider scale than at present. Discharging semi-treated waste water into an area surrounded by developed land with millions of inhabitants is undesirable,” said Ms Dickson.

She said the City should expand and enhance the treatment of wastewater to the extent that it was fully useable for consumption.

“This will not only put a stop to pollution in the area but will go a long way to supplement our reticulation system.

“It is alarming that the City is not embracing complete re-use of this wastewater and still plans to let some of the treated water go to waste into the environment. This is seen as short-sighted in the drought-stricken City we live in.

“In a well-run city, one would expect that planning would be more forward looking. One hopes that plans will go beyond the mere treatment of water,” she said.