WILD AND WET: Rietvlei and its associated wetlands around the Diep River at Milnerton are a crucial element of the new consolidated Table Bay Nature Reserve. Picture Bruce Sutherland/City of Cape Town
WILD AND WET: Rietvlei and its associated wetlands around the Diep River at Milnerton are a crucial element of the new consolidated Table Bay Nature Reserve. Picture Bruce Sutherland/City of Cape Town

Rietvlei water body closed again over water quality and health concerns

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Dec 31, 2021

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has closed the Rietvlei for the second time this year because of water quality concerns.

The vlei was reopened early last month after its closure for more than three months in June due to water quality that deteriorated below the level deemed safe for recreational use.

Other aquatic sections of the Table Bay Nature Reserve, including the Diep River, Milnerton Lagoon and estuary remain closed to the public due to elevated E. coli counts. Meanwhile, the Zandvlei and the Zeekoeivlei remain closed.

The City said the latest test results received on Tuesday evening showed high levels of faecal coliform (E. coli) within the water body. It said this indicated an elevated risk to human health.

The City said it was investigating the causes of the recent increase in the E. coli count.

Milnerton Aquatic Club conservation officer Katja Haslinger said as stakeholders they were not consulted on the closure of the vlei and have conducted independent water quality tests.

“We haven’t been informed of any sewage spills or pump station failures in the area, so we are not aware of the source of the pollution.

“We were not told of the current levels of E. coli which informed the closure of the vlei or the points where the pollution was discovered.

“At times the City uses 1 000 cfu (colony forming unit per 100ml) and/or 4 000 cfu and at times they keep the vlei open at 5 700 cfu," she said.

Haslinger said the closure was a huge blow for tourism in the area and to sailing instructors who were dependent on the lake to earn an income.

“We have international tourists at the moment who are using the vlei and they are hugely disappointed,” she said.

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