Camps Bay 'Blue Flag' lowered amid poo spill

Camps Bay 'Blue Flag' lowered amid sewage spill. Photographer: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Camps Bay 'Blue Flag' lowered amid sewage spill. Photographer: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 17, 2024


Cape Town - The popular Camps Bay Beach had to have its Blue Flag lowered after sewage from a nearby toilet block flowed onto it.

Former resident and admin of the “Bay of Sewage” group on Facebook, Mark Jackson, said he was happy that the Blue Flag was lowered in response to the reports of dangerous amounts of sewage on the beach.

“I’m happy the City responded quickly too. However, sewage on Camps Bay Beach, from blocked pipes, is an ongoing issue.

“Our sewage infrastructure is clearly under strain and working over-capacity, yet the City has seen fit to approve new developments despite public opposition, like the new 100bed hotel on the beachfront,” Jackson said.

Jackson, responsible for the “Bay of Sewage” video on his Facebook group, Camps Bay’s Sewage Crisis, described the City’s “Band-Aid” approach to infrastructure failures as non-functional.

“We need better infrastructure, including actual sewage treatment works, so we treat our effluent properly, rather than our archaic approach of just pumping it not-very-far out to sea, untreated,” he said.

A video posted in the ‘Bay of Sewage’ Facebook group shows sewage flowing out from the toilet block by the children's play pool area at Camps Bay Beach.Picture:Bay of Sewage.

Mayco member for water and sanitation, Zahid Badroodien, confirmed that there was a sewer blockage reported in Camps Bay on Saturday, January 13.

“The resulting spill was attended to on the same day, and the beach was cleaned. The spill did not reach the ocean. The cause of the blockage was foreign objects in the system, namely rags and fats,” he said.

According to Badroodien, residents can also do their part to prevent such sewer blockages and overflows.

“Ensuring only human waste, toilet paper and grey water be disposed via sinks and toilets in homes and communities.

“It is illegal for residents to place any other materials into the system because it causes overflows due to blockage,” Badroodien said.

Camps Bay 'Blue Flag' lowered amid sewage spill. Picture Leon Lestrade/Independent Newspapers

It's alleged that the Blue Flag was lifted by the national Blue Flag co-ordinator, Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa), within 24 hours. Blue Flag rules state that public health risks constitute a major incident and are supposed to result in the flag being lowered all season.

Patricia van der Ross, Mayco member for community service and health, said it was standard procedure to alert Wessa to the lowering of the flag – and attend to the spill.

She said: “If the spill reaches the water, then the flag remains down until such time that water samples indicate no risk to human health. In this instance, the spill did not enter the ocean.”

Van der Ross added that bathers were also not prevented from entering the water because the spill did not enter the water.

“The public is made aware of a spill through the lowering of the Blue Flag, the demarcation of the affected area and warning signage.”

Wessa National Coordinator, Tevya Lotriet said: “We can confirm that there was a sewage spill at Camps Bay, which led to the flag being temporarily lowered.

“As soon as it was reported we instructed the City officials to lower the flag, which they did.

“The City’s team responded to clear the blockage and contaminated sand on the same day – the spill did not reach the ocean. The flag was raised after there was no longer a health risk to the public.

“However, that being said, we are in the process of discussing the matter with the Blue Flag International office based in Copenhagen, about this specific type of situation, and any potential consequences for Camp’s Bay Beach on the programme.

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Cape Argus