City’s water treatment abilities questioned
WATER samples collected by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) during independent testing of the Diep River system have raised questions about the City’s competency in managing effluent discharge at Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW).
According to Outa, samples taken last month showed an extremely high E coli level of 8.4 million parts per 100ml.
Senior legal project manager Andrea Korff said: “The test was taken at one of Outa’s well-documented sampling points, called PDZ, which was brought to the City’s attention on numerous occasions.
“We do not know whether the City is deliberately covering it up or is just plain incompetent in its management of the WWTW. This and similar discharge points are in remote parts of the plant or are hidden by overgrown vegetation, and these discharge points are apparently unknown to the WWTW’s management and staff, while being easily smelt by third parties.”
Since the beginning of the year, Outa has been sampling water at strategic points along the Diep River Estuary, which includes the Milnerton Lagoon, after residents raised concerns about the water quality.
Mayco member for water and waste services Xanthea Limberg said the November sample OUTA took cannot be claimed to reflect final effluent quality at Potsdam.
“Nor should the specific reed bed collapse incident be overstated, as it was quickly noticed and the embankment strengthened within 48 hours. It is therefore completely false to speak of the City ignoring ‘sewerage leaks’ or ‘unofficial discharge points’.
“The specific water sample result is an outlier compared to recent trends which show that the quality of the Diep River/Milnerton lagoon is improving.”
Last month, the Department of Local Government and Environmental Affairs’ law enforcement agency, or “Green Scorpions”, issued a directive to the City in terms of the National Environmental Management Act nearly 10 months after the province asked the City for a detailed plan to clean up the pollution in the affected areas.
The department took action after a warning was issued in February by Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell.
Bredell’s spokesperson, James-Brent Styan, said that the City lodged an appeal on October 20 and that Bredell was still considering the matter.
Greater Table View Action Forum planning and biodiversity portfolio chairperson David Ayres said they were not surprised by the City’s appeal and the latest evidence.
“The City stands alone in its belief that the Potsdam Wastewater Plant and other City infrastructure do not continue to pollute our river systems.”