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Cape Town – Residents in Zeekoevlei are concerned that the area is approaching a state of full catastrophe following a second sewage spill on Monday, allegedly caused by maintenance at the Strandfontein Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW).
Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei vice-chairperson Tom Schwerdtfeger said the spill site erupted on Monday with an additional six manholes leaking a massive amount of sewage into Rondevlei.
Schwerdtfeger said the resident’s concern was that the City had not committed to the rehabilitation of the environment as yet.
“We know that the second spill was due to poor maintenance of the sewage plant. We need a commitment from the City that they will take responsibility for this disaster and rehabilitate the area,” he said.
However, mayoral committee member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said City officials had been working tirelessly this week to ensure that the environmental impact of sewer overflow into the Zeekoevlei lake was minimised.
Limberg said the spill had been mostly contained and seepage into the vlei was being diverted into a stormwater cut off drain and the wastewater pond system.
“Investigation into possibly as-yet-undiscovered factors which could be contributing to the spill continue. This includes identifying to what extent there are possible new and undiscovered points of stormwater ingress, and infiltration into sewers in the catchment,” said Limberg.
Freshwater ecologist and independent consultant based at Zeekoevlei, Liz Day said the latest spill was estimated to have resulted in discharge of at least 105 million litres of raw sewage into and around the nature reserve and Ramsar wetland.
Day said while many spills were as a result of vandalism and illegal dumping. She said the recent spill clearly resulted from lack of adequate maintenance at the WWTW, where a single working screw allowing uptake of sewage into the facility failed.
“This is an unacceptable state and indicates severely inadequate maintenance of essential facilities. Most of the initiatives to reduce passage of sewage into the vlei have been carried out by the False Bay Nature Reserve staff, who have gone far beyond their call of duty to try to address the problem,” said Day.
She said that the vlei and its associated wetlands and terrestrial areas will need significant rehabilitation – both in the immediate term, and going forward.
She added that the City will need to commit to this, or the positive impacts of 25 years of active rehabilitation in the vlei would be threatened.