False Bay’s raw sewage haz­ard

Re­searchers, city team up after tests on beaches high­light pres­ence of cholera-in­duc­ing pol­lu­tants, E coli

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE - ATHINA MAY [email protected]

AN “apoc­a­lyp­tic” prob­lem is de­vel­op­ing along False Bay, which has af­fected ma­rine life and may put beach­go­ers at risk be­cause of mis­man­aged ef­flu­ent from the Zand­vlei Waste­water Treat­ment Works.

UCT deputy di­rec­tor of en­vi­ron­men­tal hu­man­i­ties Pro­fes­sor Les­ley Green said mil­lions of litres of raw sewage had been dumped into Kuils River, en­tered Ma­cas­sar beach and af­fected the neigh­bour­ing coast.

Green, who worked with UWC’s se­nior chem­istry Pro­fes­sor Les­lie Petrik, and UCT an­thro­pol­ogy lec­turer Nikiwe Solomon, con­ducted tests on the Kuils River and coastal ar­eas, and said con­tam­i­nants were found on False Bay beaches.

“When the re­port came out, I was so shocked. I con­tacted (ward coun­cil­lor) Ganief Hen­dricks, who ar­ranged for us to visit. We did wa­ter sam­ples and took it to the SAB (South African Bu­reau of Stan­dards) and the re­sults were shock­ing,” said Green.

“It’s a ter­ri­ble is­sue, False Bay is nearby, and it’s go­ing to af­fect the health of peo­ple more broadly. The ecol­ogy of False Bay is frag­ile; we can­not keep pump­ing ef­flu­ent out like that.

Green said the pol­lu­tants found could cause a cholera out­break, and peo­ple close to the river were al­ready ex­pe­ri­enc­ing chronic ill­nesses.

Petrik said the pop­u­la­tion had af­fected the Penin­sula as beaches along­side the river were heav­ily con­tam­i­nated with mi­crobes.

“Every­one play­ing in the sand will pick up in­fec­tions. E coli is one of them. There are many re­ports of E coli in­fec­tions. I’m not a mi­cro (bi­ol­ogy) spe­cial­ist, but I can read the data, and the data I’ve seen is very con­cern­ing.

“If it con­tin­ues to in­fect the wa­ter, the wave wa­ter will spread mi­crobes all along the beaches. I would be think­ing twice about swim­ming in the beach and putting my child on the sand to play be­cause pol­lu­tion is re­ally rife,” said Petrik, adding that fish caught in the False Bay area were also stud­ied and found to con­tain high lev­els of chem­i­cals such as painkillers, pes­ti­cides and an­tibi­otics found in sewage.

The re­searchers con­tacted the City and the Depart­ment of Health for in­ter­ven­tion, and are work­ing on a way to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion.

Leader of the Al Jama-ah po­lit­i­cal party, and Hen­dricks said the party had made a pre­sen­ta­tion to Mayor Dan Plato with the re­searchers, and it was agreed that ur­gent ac­tion would be taken.

“We made two rec­om­men­da­tions: one to alert the pub­lic of the dan­ger in the ocean, and one to alert the in­dus­try that fish are be­ing poi­soned. He will look into al­le­ga­tions made by the pro­fes­sors.

“False Bay beaches are un­safe for recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties and swim­ming, and seafood prod­ucts are un­safe for hu­man con­sump­tion. Hun­dreds of res­i­dents close to harm­ful rivers are ill, and some have died. The party is as­sist­ing them with a pos­si­ble class ac­tion,” said Hen­dricks.

May­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber for In­for­mal Set­tle­ments, Wa­ter and Waste Ser­vices and En­ergy Xanthea Lim­berg said the mat­ter per­tained to al­gae blooms in False Bay, a com­mon oc­cur­rence off the coast­line with no known tox­ins.

She said the city had the high­est num­ber of Blue Flag beaches in the coun­try, and wel­comed en­gage­ments by the re­searchers, and looked for­ward to see­ing their find­ings.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.