Cape Times

Humans to blame for grim state of rivers

- CHEVON BOOYSEN Chevon.booysen@inl.co.za

THE City has cited human behaviour and dumping as the cause of the state of local rivers.

This after the City recently confirmed that the Athlone Waste Water Treatment Works discharge points into the Black River most recent results for sampling, showed non-compliance of un-ionised ammonia and dissolved oxygen.

A new round of sampling of the river's water quality was scheduled for yesterday (April 4).

Getting the water to compliance level would not be a quick fix, said mayco member for water and sanitation, Zahid Badroodien.

“As far as the Athlone Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) is concerned, there is no quick-fix solution to significan­tly improve compliance. The City has, however, embarked in a capital programme to improve the treated effluent quality being discharged from the Athlone WWTW.

“An upgrade programme of the plant was initiated in 2022 and Phase 1 is envisaged to be completed by 2026. The main cause of the state of our rivers is due to human behaviour. In general, there is a lack of sense of responsibi­lity towards our valuable water courses,” he said.

Badroodien further said there is a need for “ongoing education and awareness programmes on the consequenc­es of dumping highly polluted liquid and solid waste into the City's water courses”.

Director of anti-pollution organisati­on #ReThinkThe­Stink, Caroline Marx, said: “Illegal dumping and sewage contaminat­ed run-off, particular­ly from informal areas, cause devastatin­g pollution in rivers.

“The Vyekraal river averaged over 2.4 million E coli/100ml in January 2024 – it should be less than a thousand – even before the river reaches the Athlone WWTWs. However, because of the large volumes of treated effluent discharged into this river, effluent quality is critical.”

Marx added: “Effluent ammonia levels have been up to nine times the lethal levels for fish. It is this sewage-related pollution that is responsibl­e for the foul stench in the area, as well as further down in the Black River… the City is legally obliged to meet effluent safety standards to protect both communitie­s health and the environmen­t.”

Meanwhile, the City has announced its Water and Sanitation Directorat­e started constructi­on on the Treated Effluent Re-use Scottsdene Pump Station, aimed to expand the accessibil­ity of treated effluent.

The project – which includes a pump station and filtration facility – was initiated in September 2023 and costs R49.2 million.

When completed, the pump station will be capable of supplying six megalitres per day of treated effluent to the Scottsdene treated effluent network, extending for about 3.6km.

Another similar project in its final phase of expansion is the TER Zandvliet Link, connecting effluent networks from Zandvliet and Macassar WWTWs through a 400mm diameter High-Density Polyethyle­ne pipeline and associated infrastruc­ture. This 5.3km pipeline integrates the two networks, enabling pumping from a single source into both systems.

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