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Cape Town – The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the Milnerton Ratepayers and Residents Associations have called on the City to be transparent and take responsibility for the “emergency effluent discharge” at Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) last month.
This after the organisation received video footage showing that the City was discharging effluent into the Diep River from the Long Pond sluice gate and not from the official discharge point.
Outa senior legal project manager Andrea Korff said from the footage, the Potsdam WWTW opened sluice gates at the Long Pond, allowing the effluent to flow directly into the Diep River catchment via this outlet.
Korff said the National Environmental Management Act (Nema) and Potsdam’s water use licence, allowed the City to only discharge treated effluent that complies with certain standards into a nature reserve. She said disposal had to be through legal official discharge points.
Korff said Outa had always believed that one of the major contributing sources to the pollution in the Diep River appeared to be the Potsdam WWTW and it’s “unofficial” and “emergency discharge points”.
“The question remains whether the City reported these ‘emergency discharges’ to the appropriate oversight authorities when they were discharged on 2 and 3 May and, if not, why not?
“Although we understand that emergency discharge would be necessary in some instances, it does not absolve the City of its responsibility to ensure that the effluent they are discharging into the Diep River is compliant with Potsdam’s water use licence,” she said.
The association’s chairperson, Gary van Den Berg, said the City raved about their focus on the people and environment while it was allowing developments without upgrading the infrastructure first.
“We have more people, no factual change to sewerage and the lagoon becomes a convenient dump and then Limberg spins that it is people in Joe Slovo who are the problem – when in fact the City is pumping directly into the reedbed to hide it,” he said.
Rethink The Stink member Peter Walsh said the directive and the Nema Act and the water use license were clear and that the City was on record “dropping the ball”.
“The detailed documented data around water pollution is a result of their actions or lack of it in building and providing much needed clarity on the real situation in our waters,” he said
Mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg said the Diep River was a large catchment and there were a number of pollution sources and points along it.
Limberg said there was a monthly report of short, medium and long-term interventions being implemented and submitted to sub-councils and the provincial government, which was available for public.
She said the department continued to work to prevent and minimise pollution.She said effluent quality from Potsdam had been brought within acceptable standards.
However she said challenges around illegal development and obstruction of City sewerage infrastructure for maintenance and misuse of the sewer system remained prevalent.