Toxic sewage spill causes a stink at Milnerton lagoon
Cape Town - Public pressure group, ReThinkTheStink says the Milnerton lagoon is turning toxic following yet another sewage spill over the weekend.
The group said the sewage smell started coming down towards the lagoon’s mouth and the water began to turn a milky white grey colour with the odour growing more pungent.
ReThinkTheStink member Caroline Marx said that given the City's current directive issued for polluting the Diep River, another major pollution incident was disappointing and upsetting.
Western Cape Government Environmental Affairs and Development Planning issued the City with an official directive in terms of Section 28(4) of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) earlier this year over pollution of the Diep River and Milnerton Lagoon system.
“There were major spills in Joe Slovo and Woodbridge Island on 25 and 26 April, then on the evening of 26 April a complaint was made about the stench of sewage generally in the Milnerton area.
“Monday revealed what looked like raw sewage flowing in the lagoon and was escalated to local councillors. Following further complaints of massive contamination, the complaint was escalated to Xanthea Limberg. The City confirmed that there was a spill and are investigating and will communicate the cause later. No communication received to date,” she said.
Marx said these major spills were regular, sometimes weekly occurrences at some spots, adding that the ecology of the lagoon cannot withstand the repeated major sewage spills flowing in.
She said the City's current apparent inability to stop regular contamination of the Diep River and Milnerton lagoon with sewage was disappointing.
Environmental activist Peter Walsh said this was the worst spill he had seen in years. He said the department was responsible for following up on the directive and holding those responsible to account.
“Until recently the City has been doing well and started cleaning up and all of a sudden in the last couple of weeks it looks like the wheels have come off again. On Tuesday we noticed that there was a lot of work that was happening to the Potsdam area at Koeberg Road and we believe that there was a massive outage either at the pump station or something similar in that area. The fish life and bird were coming back to the lagoon and now there's now pure sewage running there,” he said.
Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste Xanthea Limberg said a task team located the pollution source from the Joe Slovo/ Phoenix area and immediate mitigation and containment measures to address the sewage spill and its impact were actioned.
“The directorate continues work to prevent and minimise pollution. Effluent quality from Potsdam has been brought within acceptable standards, and is not related in any way to the incident in question.
“However challenges around illegal development and obstruction of City sewerage infrastructure for maintenance remain prevalent, as does misuse/abuse of the sewer system. Until these factors are addressed, it will be difficult to ensure sustained improvement in the lagoon,” she said.
Environmental Affairs and Development Planning head of communications Rudolf van Jaarsveldt said the department was aware of the spill and was engaging with the matter. He said the outcome of the engagement will determine the department’s response, taking into consideration the directive already issued to the City.
“The department is committed to ensuring compliance with the directive (dated, 22 January 2021) and with the relevant environmental legislation, as well as to continue to monitor the City’s monthly reports, and will not hesitate, as before, to institute further enforcement action, if required,” said Van Jaarsveldt.