Marine outfall permit comments reach close to 2000

Marine outfalls permits public participation has been completed. file image, Ayanda Ndamane, Independent Newspapers Cape Town

Marine outfalls permits public participation has been completed. file image, Ayanda Ndamane, Independent Newspapers Cape Town

Published Mar 16, 2024


Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has submitted its final report on their 60-day public participation to the Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE) on the marine outfalls permit just months after residents called for an alternative solution which they viewed as a health risk, and close to 2 000 comments were received.

According to the final report, 1 979 comments were received from areas such as Camps Bay, Hout Bay and Green Point, and additional landbased sites received 86 submissions.

The City together with DFFE hosted the public participation process where residents could submit their comment on the marine outfalls discharge permit applications for the Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) in Mitchells Plain, Simon’s Town, Miller’s Point, Oudekraal, Llandudno and greater parts of the Atlantic Seaboard.

The report also concludes that communication was spread between three areas in question, with Camps Bay being the highest at 36% of comments received for health and tourism and administration.

Hout Bay stood out as the area with the highest comparative number of environmental impact comments with 33% of comments.

Green Point received 30% of comments, a surprisingly low percentage given its proximity to the Sea Point Promenade.

The City said the minister now had the task of gathering all the inputs for consideration and appeals, as permits were only issued in 2022 in Green Point and Camps Bay and 2019 in Hout Bay.

Water and Sanitation Mayco member Zahid Badroodien said a City-commissioned scoping study has already been completed in 2023 on future alternatives for the treatment of effluent currently discharged from the three marine outfalls, including the associated costs per proposal.

“In the interim, the City is focusing on short-term options for refurbishment, replacement, and maintenance to extend the lifespan of existing treatment infrastructure,” he said.

He said there were major investments

to improve wastewater treatment and upgrade sewers to the benefit of inland and coastal water quality, with a 226% increase in the overall infrastructure budget, from R2.3 billion in 2022/23 to R7.8bn in 2025/26.

“Treatment quality was rated as the biggest concern, with 54% of all comments received highlighting this as the main reason for objecting to the marine outfall discharge permits for each of the three outfalls,” he added.

“Comments on treatment are most commonly related to technology and methods, indicating a clear call to improve quality with better technology.

“Around a third of comments (31%) also related to improving processes in relation to the management and administration of outfalls.

“The City has three marine outfalls which have been functioning for 31 to 47 years: Camps Bay marine outfall (1977), Hout Bay marine outfall (1993) and Green Point marine outfall (1993).

“All three of these outfalls are operating in accordance with their original design to dispose of screened effluent, with the Green Point and Hout Bay marine outfalls both receiving Green Drop Awards in 2022.”

For short-term options they have considered refurbishment of the existing marine outfalls infrastructure including pump stations, at an estimated capital expenditure of R100 million; a medium-term option would mean means extending the marine outfalls area to exclude the environmental protection area.

The long-term options were to construct pump stations and pipelines to convey wastewater to existing WWTWs and undergo extensive construction to extend the conventional facilities.

“This option could be aligned to medium-term option one and is estimated at a cost of R6bn to R8bn of capital expenditure,” he said.

Previously, Peter Flentov of the Atlantic Seaboard community, who spoke on behalf of residents, said they were calling for another solution as the outfalls would bring pollution and health issues:

Meanwhile, ActionSA welcomed the announcement.

“In November 2023, ActionSA filed criminal charges against the City of Cape Town for violating the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, following our discovery of the City’s unlawful non-compliance with the stipulated requirements outlined in the Hout Bay Marine Outfall Permit.

“Importantly, this revealed the shocking truth about the City’s operation of the Marine Outfalls and, more significantly, their harmful impact,” they said.

The Sea Point, Fresnaye & Bantry Bay Ratepayers Association did not respond to queries.

Weekend Argus