ALGAE build up that is all over the Zandvlei.
ALGAE build up that is all over the Zandvlei.

Residents 'dismayed, distressed and angered' by Zandvlei being closed yet again

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Oct 26, 2021

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Cape Town - The Zandvlei has been closed yet again after another sewage spill, one month after it was reopened.

The vlei became the first of three – Rietvlei and Zeekoevlei being the other two – that were closed in May and then briefly opened for about two weeks before being closed again.

The City said that continuous water quality testing at various points within the vlei’s water body were undertaken and are being used to determine the source of the high levels of E.coli.

“The latest round of test results showed high levels of faecal coliforms (Escherichia coli) within the water body, which indicates an elevated risk to human health. Thus, due to water quality concerns, the City has concluded that the water body should be closed to the public as a precautionary measure until further notice.

“The public is advised to avoid all contact with the water at Zandvlei until these levels are within national recreational water use guidelines,” it said.

Tom Schwerdtfeger, vice-chairperson of Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei, said the fact that the source of the pollution had still not been found pointed to a systemic failure of the sewage system in the city.

One of the “Save the Zandvlei” petitioners, who asked not to be named, said residents and homeowners around the vlei were dismayed, distressed and angered by the closure so soon after it had been partially reopened.

“This is in great part due to the fact that despite the many assurances from council given in the response to the recent 6 000-plus petition, little or nothing has been achieved.

“Sewage from unidentified sources continues to infiltrate the vlei, real time figures for e-coli levels are steadfastly withheld, the weed harvester has been inoperable again for weeks and the new harvester delivery date still remains a closely guarded secret.

“No new or novel plans for the management of the mouth have been announced; instead, the same protocols are stubbornly followed every year and seem to generate the increasingly severe problems,” he said.

Schwerdtfeger said without new and creative interventions and the provision of recommended and promised services, the vlei would remain closed more often and for longer.

Rethink the Stink member Caroline Marx said Zandvlei was the only functioning fish-breeding Estuary on the False Bay coast and the pollution would impact on fish stocks.

“Environmental damage caused by ongoing pollution has very real downstream effects and fragile ecosystems need to be protected to safeguard the entire food chain – including the fishermen,” said Marx.

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