Milnerton lagoon low water levels a good sign of its restoration

Milnerton lagoon. Picture: Facebook

Milnerton lagoon. Picture: Facebook

Published Oct 31, 2023


Cape Town - The receding levels of the Milnerton Lagoon, the subject of an ongoing battle between residents surrounding the lagoon and the City of Cape Town over the sewage that is seeping into it, has interested groups all fired up again.

However, the Milnerton Central Residents Association’s environment portfolio says there is no reason for residents to be alarmed by the receding water levels of the lagoon.

The association’s environment head, Caroline Marx, was commenting on chatter by residents in the community regarding the “emptying” of the lagoon over the past few weeks.

She said the civic organisation was happy about the lagoon’s improving health as a result of recent flooding as well as high tides, which would bring more water into the lagoon.

“Far more water is coming into the lagoon again, which is good for its health. So we are quite happy about the situation at the moment because it means the lagoon is getting a very good flush with salt water every now and again,” Marx said.

The City’s spatial planning and environment Mayco member Eddie Andrews confirmed Marx’s statements, saying during the major flood events in winter, the system was flushed by the excessive rainfall.

“This resulted in sediment on the estuary floor being flushed out to sea. The flushing that took place, together with the spring lows that have occurred, may be attributed to the current change in the system.

“This greater tidal variation should be welcomed as it indicates a much healthier and functional estuary mouth with the greater intrusion of healthy seawater at high tide reaching further into the system and bringing beneficial oxygen levels,” Andrews said.

Commenting on initiatives to improve the health of the lagoon, Andrews said the municipality would be proceeding with trialling the aeration of the lagoon before the end of the year, if all processes go according to plan.

The City, through its water and sanitation department, also commented that it was continuing its work to restore the lagoon environment.

The department earlier this year announced it had allocated a multibillion-rand budget to tackle the city’s sewerage and stormwater infrastructure, as well as pollution mitigation measures.

City water and sanitation Mayco member Zahid Badroodien said: “The City of Cape Town is fully committed to restoring the quality and health of Milnerton Lagoon and has devised a comprehensive action plan to achieve this goal.

“The plan encompasses short-term interventions and long-term strategies to address urban pollution in the lagoon.”

The department said it would spend R5.2 billion on upgrades to the Potsdam WWTW, at least R430 million on its Montague Gardens bulk sewer rehabilitation, and invest R118 million in its Koeberg pump station upgrade.

“The ultimate objective is to steadily close off pollution sources to the lagoon over time and gradually work towards the ambitious goal of dredging the water body to remove the decades-long build-up of pollution.

“We are committed to diligently monitoring work being undertaken by consultants, to ensure timely and efficient implementation of all feasible interventions,” Badroodien said.

In August this year, the directorate began work on its R470m Milnerton bulk sewer upgrade, with the construction of an entirely new pipeline set for completion by 2025.