Rates boycott threat over poo lagoon

Milnerton residents seek solution to pollution at Milnerton lagoon

Milnerton residents are threatening a rates boycott over the polluted Milnerton Lagoon.

They say the stinky lagoon is hurting their property values and they want it declared an environmental disaster.

This emerged during a heated meeting between about 90 residents and City officials at the Milnerton library on Tuesday September 6.

“The City has come here once again to feed us bullshit. This meeting is a waste of time,” said a man who only gave his name as Robert. He was one of about six people who stormed out about 30 minutes in to the two-hour-long meeting.

Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Zahid Badroodien said he understood people’s frustration and the City was trying be “as transparent as it can be” about its plans and setbacks at the Potsdam sewage-treatment plant.

Officials started to give presentation on a range of water-related issues, but the residents demanded to know what the City was going to do to stop sewage from flowing into the lagoon.

A man shouted out that he had seen nearly a decade of ecosystem collapse in the area. When Tabletalk, asked him for further comment, he said, “Nothing is going to fix this kak, not even you. They (the City) need to come together and fix these issues.”

People complained that the stench of sewage filled their cars when they drove past the lagoon.

“My colleagues know that they shouldn’t even comment about the fact that I get to work, smelling like shit,” said a man.

Milnerton Central Residents’ Association’s Bouwe van der Eems said key questions remained unanswered.

“We need answers. Will this situation get worse or are there temporary solutions to improve this situation while we wait for upgrades? What actions is the City taking in the next three months to improve things?”

Ward 55 councillor Fabian Ah-Sing said he was fed up with the stench blanketing the area and he asked if an environmental disaster could be declared.

A resident, Ollie Burns, said the beach, lagoon and Beach Hotel should be closed because tourists were in danger and restaurant patrons ate their meals with a foul smell hanging over them.

Mr Badroodien said the City had issued two tenders for upgrades at the sewage plant, which should be completed by August 2025 at a cost of about R2.2billion.

Rehabilitating the Milnerton Lagoon would take a “systematic and intentional approach over numerous years”, said Mr Badroodien.

The mayoral priority programme on sanitation had a clear plan to improve water quality in the lagoon, and, among things, included upgrades to the Potsdam sewage plant, installing generator capacity at pump stations, upgrading the Koeberg pump station and replacing sewer pipelines, he said.

Short-term solutions to protect Rietvlei and improve conditions in the lagoon included separating nutrient-rich Potsdam discharge while having the sea flow into Rietvlei to create salt marshes and dredging waste from the lagoon.

The City would also build a planned treatment wetland at the Bayside Canal outfall, he said.

“We will ensure all sewer pump stations have back-up generators,” he said, adding that the City would consider building a low-flow channel, east of the existing channel in the estuary, to “mitigate the quantity of discharge from the Potsdam”.

Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews, who was also at the meeting, told Tabletalk the City was looking at all options to speed up short-term fixes for the lagoon.

“We will keep the public informed,” he said.

A further meeting is due to be held in November.

Caroline Marx, the Milnerton Central Residents’ Association deputy chairwoman and admin for the Facebook group RethinktheStink, encouraged residents to make a list of questions to be sent to the City before the next meeting.

Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Dr Zahid Badroodien tried to calm angry residents at the meeting on Tuesday September 6.
Upgrades to the Potsdam sewage plant are set to be completed by August 2025 at a cost of about R2.2 billion, says Mr Badroodien