Footage reveals flood of sewage
Effluent pours into already heavily polluted Swartkops River
DRONE footage taken late last week has revealed massive sewage spill pollution flowing from the Kelvin Jones Waste Water Treatment Plant into the heavily polluted Swartkops River. At the same time, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality says it has no immediate plans to fix the sewage build-up from the spill in farm dams, which has been blamed for the death of cattle on one heavily affected farm.
The drone footage was taken by the Zwartkops Conservancy.
It is understood a high-level meeting between the Department of Water Affairs and the municipality will be held this week to discuss the sewage situation on the farm of Lofty van Schalkwyk, 84.
Van Schalkwyk, whose farm is right next to the Kelvin Jones sewerage works, has been complaining since 2010 that tons of raw sewage was flooding the dams on his farm.
The sewage is running into the Swartkops River from the nearby wastewater treatment plant.
The Swartkops River runs through Van Schalkwyk’s farm, with the sewage pooling in several low-level dams.
He said in the past month the water had become so toxic that 16 of his cattle had died.
The latest water results from the municipality also show that bacteria levels were 4 000 times higher than safe levels where water flowed into the Swartkops River from the Kelvin Jones Waste Water Treatment Plant.
“The municipality is refurbishing the Kelvin Jones sewerage works at a cost of R35-million through an urban settlements development grant from Treasury,” municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said.
“Once complete, the municipality will be better placed to avoid sewage spills of this nature,” he said. “A more detailed investigation will also be done at the affected sites.”
The environmental officer for the Zwartkops Conservancy, Jenny Rump, visited the area late last week.
“Where the water flows down into the Swartkops River from Kelvin Jones, it is clearly sewage,” she said.
“What a beautiful place this could have been if it were not for the inability of the metro to do what they should be doing to make Kelvin Jones Waste Water Treatment Plant functions properly.”
Rump said since the beginning of the year they have been seeing water results showing massive pollution from the Kelvin Jones treatment works.
Untreated sewage holds public health risks as it can lead to the outbreak of hepatitis and cholera.
“I hope the [recent] rain will dilute some of the pollution, but the river will have to rise a lot to clean out those dams,” Rump said.
UNDER THREAT: Drone footage shows the extent of sewage pollution on the farm of Lofty van Schalkwyk, next to the Kelvin Jones Wastewater Works