‘No discharge permit’
Cannon Rocks resident blows whistle on brine pipeline
ACannon Rocks resident has blown the whistle on a new pipeline being laid in the coastal village, after discovering it was not included in a previous environmental impact assessment (EIA) and that additional brine would be discharged on the beach from an increased capacity reverse osmosis (RO) plant.
New resident Marcia Fargnoli alerted TotT to the project on Tuesday, after contacting the company that did the previous impact studies for Amatola Water for Ndlambe Municipality’s bulk potable water supply pipeline from Cannon Rocks to Alexandria.
After TotT contacted the department of environmental affairs (DEA), chief director of compliance Sonnyboy Bapela confirmed no coastal discharge permit had been issued because no application had been received.
TotT wrote a series of articles two years ago on various problems relating to “quick wins” in the bulk water project, including that the pipeline that was laid from Cannon Rocks to Alexandria, at a cost of R13m, was not being used because Amatola Water realised the Cannon Rocks RO plant was not producing enough water to also supply Alexandria.
A signboard for the current project at Cannon Rocks states that it is for “augmentation of the Alexandria bulk water supply”, funded by a municipal infrastructure grant, with P&S Consulting Engineers as the engineer and Czar JV as the contractor. The project duration is expected to be 10 months.
“Projects of this nature must comply with the National Environmental Management Act [Nema],” Fargnoli said.
“Bulk water requires an EIA process and full public consultation, even if the pipeline is within the road reserve. This is clearly noted on the signboard from the previous environmental impact study conducted [at the Boknes crossroad].”
In addition, in accordance with Nema, Fargnoli explained that wastewater (brine) discharge/dumping requires a coastal lease, a coastal discharge permit from the DEA, and a full EIA.
“This current project does not fall within the environmental impact process that was previously completed. I have confirmed this with the consultants that conducted that study, Coastal & Environmental Services,” Fargnoli said.
She also alerted Cannon Rocks residents to the project by posting on a community Facebook page.
“The previous study did not include an additional pipeline for additional water, it did not include the additional boreholes, and it did not include any assessment of any impact with regard to wastewater (brine) discharge from a reverse osmosis plant. It also did not include the increase in capacity for the RO plant. According to Nema, an EIA and public consultation process must take place for these,” she said. Fargnoli, who has struggled to get answers out of Amatola Water and the municipality, said most of the information given so far has related to the additional pipeline going down Potgieter Street, which is going to the RO plant.
“What people seem to not be aware of, is the wastewater pipeline that is set to go down Potgieter and Alice through the area of the greenbelt where there are large trees and forest connecting to Addo Woody Cape Section. Many species from Addo move back and forth between this part of Cannon Rocks and the park,” she said. “This new wastewater pipeline is for additional wastewater, beyond what is already being produced and dumped on the beach.”
She feared it would also end up in the ocean and affect sea life.
But another Cannon Rocks homeowner, Jon Goetsch, said there had been a brine discharge on the beach for years and it did not reach the ocean.
“It has created a calk bank on the beach,” he said. “In all other countries the brine is piped into the ocean where it can mix quickly with fresh seawater.”
Goetsch previously blew the whistle on illegal dune mining in Cannon Rocks in 2014, when tons of sea sand was being carted away by a contractor for use in the laying of the Cannon Rocks to Alexandria pipeline. It was eventually stopped by the Green Scorpions.
Goetsch said from what he understood, the other pipeline being laid – not the brine discharge pipeline – was for a planned RDP housing development at the Boknes crossroads. TotT wrote about this proposed development in June.
At the time, municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa said the municipality was engaging the department of human settlements on the proposal, but that the department had its own boxes to tick before any development was approved, including bulk infrastructure and sewer capacity and demand.
Asked what the department would do about the lack of permit for additional brine discharge, Bapela said DEA compliance officers were presently involved in an international exercise at sea with Interpol.
“We might be able to look into the matter by early November and issue some directives and compliance notices, when our guys are free,” he said.
“I don’t want to say what can be done until we’ve been there.”
MAKING QUICK PROGRESS: Cannon Rocks residents are concerned about a new pipeline being laid in the village without an environmental impact assessment being done