Vlei reopened after City water testing questioned

The Rietvlei is open again after a six-week closure.

Questions are being asked about the accuracy of the City’s water testing following the reopening of Rietvlei.

The City reopened the vlei for recreational use two weeks ago after closing it for six weeks, from December 29 last year.

The City blamed high E coli levels for the latest in a series of lengthy closures in recent years (“City closes Rietvlei on account of E Coli – again,” Tabletalk, December 30, 2021).

However, Milnerton Aquatic Club (MAC) conservation officer Katja Haslinger said they felt the City had erred in closing the vlei.

“After the closure on December 29, we had our own tests done on December 31. Our results came back showing a huge difference from the City’s results. We found almost no E Coli and concluded that the water was safe for recreational use.

“Councillor Badroodien (mayoral committee member for water Dr Zahid Badroodien) then initiated a joint water sampling operation on February 3, and although we have not seen the City’s results on that, the vlei was later reopened,” she said.

The joint operation involved the City, the national Department of Water and Sanitation, the South African Bureau of Standards and the MAC.

Dr Badroodien said the City’s scientific services branch was an accredited laboratory with a long-standing reputation for its capabilities and compliance with relevant standards in terms of processes and equipment.

“Standardised quality-control testing and inter-laboratory comparison is conducted on City test results on an ongoing basis and shows that the correct standards are being met. The City is investigating what exactly informed the differences between the samples of different stakeholders in the case of Rietvlei,” he said.

Ms Haslinger said the six-week closure had dealt a blow to their income.

“We usually have visitors from around the country and from overseas. But this time we have no visitors and it is costing jobs at the club like at our restaurant. People who are hired to give sailing lessons can’t do so with no visitors and a closed vlei,” she said.

Fiona Strydom, a resident at Heron Waters & Ville Du Cap, said she and other residents felt pollution continued to be a problem in the area.

“The vlei used to be such a beautiful place, along with the Diep River. Now they just get polluted.”

Dr Badroodien will be meeting with Heron Waters & Ville Du Cap residents and the Rietvlei Body Corporate on Thursday March 3 to discuss issues at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve.