Heads must roll if Western Cape is serious about curbing sewage pollution of Milnerton Lagoon

OUTA welcomes province's instruction to Cape Town to come up with a plan.

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19/02/2020 11:14:18

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heads must roll if Western Cape is serious about curbing sewage pollution of Milnerton Lagoon

                                                                                                                                                                                                          OUTA welcomes the Western Cape provincial government’s promise of action against the City of Cape Town over the pollution of the Milnerton lagoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          However, OUTA wants to see change and officials must be held to account for the mess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          “Heads must roll. This has been an issue for years and people are tired of interventions that fail to bring tangible solutions to the problems. These interventions also fail to hold those responsible to account,” says Andrea Korff, Legal Project Manager at OUTA. “We now call on the province to stop talking. They must fix the problems and take action against those in the City who acted negligently.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                          In January, water tests arranged by OUTA pointed to the Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) as one of the major sources of pollution of the Diep River and the Milnerton Lagoon which it flows into. In early February, OUTA wrote to the City of Cape Town asking for action on the pollution.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          On 18 February, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning confirmed in a statement that the Potsdam WWTW was a major cause of the pollution. The department’s Green Scorpions conducted water quality samples in the affected area, which confirmed high levels of E. Coli, ammonia, and suspended solids which are a clear indication of sewage contamination. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The department says it has asked the City of Cape Town to provide a report on this issue and a plan to address it, including emergency measures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          “This plan needs to be made public, with deadline dates and individuals responsible for the specific tasks identified so that the public can monitor progress,” says Korff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The City is tasked by province to address the immediate problem and ongoing pollution by: 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Introducing emergency measures to improve the Potsdam WWTW effluent quality;

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Ensuring that standby generators for pump stations are serviced regularly;

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Increasing area cleaning by Solid Waste Management, particularly of culverts and channels; 
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Increasing the focus on informal settlement cleansing and sanitation
                                                                                                                                                                                                          OUTA acknowledges that the pollution issue is a complex issue and needs long-term solutions. However, we are of the firm belief that short-term solutions should also be implemented as a matter of urgency. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.