The City of Cape Town has warned residents and visitors to avoid contact with Wildevoelvlei in Noordhoek Valley because of elevated toxin levels.
In a statement, the City said that Wildevoelvlei has a well-established algal population, and some species of algae have the ability, under certain conditions, to produce toxins which can be harmful to humans and animals if ingested. During the warm summer months, the algal population can increase dramatically.
Recent monitoring and laboratory tests undertaken by the City have confirmed that the water contains blue-green algal toxins.
“The public is urged to avoid all contact with the water at the vlei and in the outlet channel leading to the sea and discharging on a section of Noordhoek Beach. Dog-walkers should ensure that their pets remain on a leash and prevent them from drinking the water,” said the City’s Acting Mayoral Committee Member for Area South, Councillor Suzette Little.
The harvesting, sale and consumption of shellfish from the rocky outcrops near the outlet to the sea (Klein Slangkop on Noordhoek Beach) is not advised. Shellfish, such as mussels, harvested from this area are likely to be unfit for human consumption as a result of the toxins.
The algal blooms can usually be seen as green, blue-green, white or brown foam, scum or mats floating on the surface of the water. Exposure to the algae can cause eye irritation, skin rashes, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhoea, and cold-or flu-like symptoms. Drinking or swallowing large amounts of contaminated water can be extremely dangerous.
Anyone who comes into direct contact with the blue-green algae should wash immediately with clean water. If any symptoms present, seek medical advice immediately.
“The City will continue to monitor the water quality and keep the public informed of any developments. Water samples from the vlei are assessed regularly as part of the City’s Water Quality Monitoring Programme. Last year the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) was adopted by Council to improve how the administration works. A key goal of this is ensuring a safe environment for all,” said Councillor Little.
The City’s Environmental Health officials are erecting signage at various locations to warn the public and advise them of the situation. The warning signs will only be removed once the vlei is clear of all potential health risks.
“The City is committed to the safety of residents, but we need everyone to play their part. Please don’t go to the vlei or harvest and consume shellfish from this area,” reiterated Councillor Little.
For further information on the matter, please contact the City’s Lakeside Environmental Health Office on 021 444 1653.