Effluent in sea sparks outcry in Hout Bay


THE Hout Bay Residents Association has come out strongly against the City’s application to discharge effluent into the Atlantic Ocean.

The City has been discharging treated sewage into the ocean for decades, but in 2009, the Department of Environmental Affairs made it mandatory for coastal municipalities to apply for a Coastal Waters Discharge Permit.

Even though the City says it has always been licensed to discharge the effluent, it had not applied for the new permit.

The City is in the process of finalising its application for sea outfalls at Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Green Point.

Outfalls discharge wastewater deep underwater, far into the sea, where the effluent is dispersed. The application is now open for public comment.

In a letter to the City, the association’s chairman Len Swimmer said: “We take serious issue with the present situation in Hout Bay.

“The raw or partially macerated sewage is pumped out by our sewage station which, as you may not be aware, is subsequently transported in an anti-clockwise direction by the currents in our bay to Chapman’s Peak, and in and around the bay.

“What we need is a proper sewage treatment plant with digesters that are capable of biodegrading the sewage,” he said.

Scuba diver Steve Bardwell also submitted an objection to the City. He said the diving community was not aware of the extent of the pollution they swam in.

“This prime recreational site is in the immediate area of the effluent discharge, and represents one of the important scuba dive training facilities in Cape Town. Diving through raw effluent is dangerous and potentially lethal, opening the city to potential legal challenges,” he said.

In a statement, Mayco member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg said the outfalls, in operation for more than 30 years, were always licensed.

“The City makes use of a diffusion system at the end of the outfalls. This system rapidly dilutes the preliminary effluent to at least a 100:1 at the immediate exit point. This instantly results in a very substantial contaminant reduction,” Sonnenberg said.

He added that given Cape Town’s growing urban migration rates, the outfalls were the most feasible option. They are also used in cities such as New York and Barcelona.

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