City of Cape Town fighting directive from Green Scorpions over Diep River, Milnerton pollution
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is fighting a directive from the provincial environmental law enforcement, or “Green Scorpions”, over pollution of the Diep River and Milnerton lagoon system, said Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg.
The directive was issued in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) nearly 10 months after the Province asked the City to provide a detailed plan for cleaning up the pollution in the affected areas following complaints from the public.
The department took action following a warning issued in February by Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell.
Bredell granted the City’s request to postpone the provision of a report and action plan relating to the challenges in the Diep River and Milnerton Lagoon, pending an announcement by Mayor Dan Plato in March “with regard to the planned remedy of the pollution in the Diep River”.
Bredell warned if no action was taken by the City, there would be no more postponements. In March, the City released what Limberg described as “comprehensive plans to combat pollution in the Diep River catchment area”.
But by August, residents, through the Greater Table View Action Forum, said the City had done nothing to address the pollution issues.
Yesterday, Bredell’s spokesperson James-Brent Styan said the Green Scorpions’ action was taken as a follow-up to Bredell’s warning in February.
Limberg said: “The City confirms receipt of a directive dated September 21 issued by the Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP) and we have lodged an appeal against it. But the City remains committed to collaborating with the DEADP to improve water quality in the Diep River, where it is within our power to do so.”
As proof of this co-operation, Limberg added: “The City has developed and implemented a pollution abatement plan for the area in the first part of 2020, and progress against this plan is reported to DEADP and local sub-councils 3 and 15 on a monthly basis.
“It must be noted that there are multiple sources of pollution impacting the lagoon, most notably the impact of land invasions in parts of the catchment, where service delivery is often constrained by factors beyond the City’s control.
“There is also pollution coming in from agricultural activities outside the City’s boundaries. Furthermore, severe and ongoing contravention of by-laws relating to use of sewers by residents in the area plays a significant role in increasing pollution.”
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) have since the start of 2020 been actively taking water samples at strategic sampling points along the Diep River Estuary to determine the source of the pollution.
Andrea Korff, senior legal project manager at Outa, said: “After many years of inaction from the authorities, residents and ratepayer associations have implemented their own sampling, paid for by voluntary civil contributions under the guidance and support of Outa.”
“These results are being accumulated for purposes of scientific analyses and other possible action.”