The results which are from May to August showed high levels of E coli in the last months at different points of the vleis. File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency
The results which are from May to August showed high levels of E coli in the last months at different points of the vleis. File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency

City releases water-testing results after closure of Rietvlei, Zandvlei and Zeekoevlei

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Sep 9, 2021

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Cape Town - The City has finally released the water-testing results that led to the closure of Rietvlei, Zandvlei and Zeekoevlei for the past months.

This after numerous requests by sporting clubs, organisations and residents for the City to release the results to the public.

The results which are from May to August showed high levels of E coli in the last months at different points of the vleis.

Currently the highest results taken on August 23 at the Zandvlei showed 430 000 cfu (colony forming unit per 100ml) in the Zandvlei north surface area while in Zeekoevlei 74 000 cfu was recorded on August 16 in front of Cape Peninsula Aquatic Club.

In Rietvlei 53 000 cfu was recorded on August 24 at the water body.

Milnerton Central Residents Association’s head of environmental portfolio Caroline Marx said the public release of water-quality results was necessary for politicians and officials to be held accountable. She said she was hopeful that this “new transparency” would continue.

“While E coli levels may be dropping, the problems have not gone away, the excess nutrients that entered the water are a serious concern given that they are likely to encourage toxic algal blooms when the weather warms up.

“Regular water testing is done but these results need to be permanently and freely available. What rights do officials and politicians have to withhold these results from residents whose rates pay their salaries and the cost of water testing,” she said.

Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei vice chairperson Tom Schwerdtfeger said the situation in Zeekoevlei had deteriorated since the initial spill at the beginning of July.

“The City has not been honest as to why these unprecedented sewage spills have occurred.

Their consistent narrative that heavy rains and bricks being put into the sewage system caused this disaster is not going to improve the overall situation. We have not had record rainfall, and bricks and foreign objects are found in all sewage systems throughout the world.

“Cape Town’s entire sewage system is frail, and only once this is acknowledged by the City will they be in a position to know what needs to be done to fix the problem,” he said.

Table View Ratepayers Association chairperson Mandy Da Matta said the rain was helping dilute the raw sewage and that the City had done nothing to stop the sewage contamination.

Freshwater ecologist and independent consultant Dr Liz Day said the data provided was not helpful in indicating any level of actual pollution tracking and on the ground interventions to address the various sources of pollution.

Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said while transparency was a key component of the Water Strategy, the City also needed to ensure that data was correctly interpreted and contextualised before disseminating to the broader public.

Limberg said the public can submit a PAIA request for water quality data.

“Capetonians have voiced an increasing desire for scientific findings to be shared. The City has heard this call and is working towards establishing a means for making these highly complex data sets available in a simple and more understandable format,” she said.

She said the City had established a Water Quality Improvement Programme to address pollution and poor ambient water across the city and a Pollution Abatement Strategies and Action Plans (PASAPs) to address sources and causes of pollution and establish appropriate medium and long–term goals were being developed.

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Cape Argus

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