Residents have reported an unbearable smell coming from Milnerton Lagoon, saying a wastewater treatment plant is largely to blame.
The plant will be undergoing a R5 billion upgrade, with short-term interventions being implemented in the meantime.
The results of independent water tests, taken earlier this month by an accredited company, were shared last week by #ReThinkTheStink and the Milnerton Central Residents Association.
The results of the tests have shown that the Diep River catchment area, which enters the lagoon and empties into the sea, has high levels of E. coli bacteria.
The samples showed that 750,000 E. coli colony-forming units (cfu) per 100ml were being discharged into the Diep River at a rate of more than 36 million litres per day. The licence requirement is under 1000 cfu/100ml.
The pollution of the lagoon has been bugging residents and business owners for a long time, with local establishments suffering because of the unbearable situation.
Signs have been erected by the city in the past warning that “for health reasons swimming and recreational activities in these waters are at your own risk”.
“The Lower Diep River, including the Milnerton Lagoon, is in a poor ecological state due to diffuse sources of pollution,” said the city on Tuesday.
“The city has identified and implemented critical short-term interventions that address the quantity of pollution entering the system,” they added.
Environmental consultants have been appointed to investigate the situation and help with short-term interventions.
“Potsdam [treatment plant] is an old facility that we are steadily working towards an upgrade. We have placed Potsdam on the mayoral priority programme and the city closely monitors Potsdam operations,” said Siseko Mbandezi, acting mayoral committee member for water and sanitation.
Mbandezi further explained that their operational team attends to the maintenance of the older infrastructure but is gradually adding new technology and upgrades too.
The plant currently treats 47 million litres of wastewater a day and is being upgraded to 100 million litres a day in line with urban growth.
New technology will be installed to ensure a high standard of wastewater treatment.
In response to the residents’ test results, the city said, “It must be noted that a water sample reflects a particular moment in time and cannot be extrapolated to draw broader conclusions.”
Residents have said that previous water tests have been held and that the plant has often not met the requirements.
The plant’s full upgrade is expected to be ready by 2026, but residents say that the situation is too urgent to wait that long.
The city will host a community feedback meeting on November 30 to further discuss the interventions being implemented to improve the conditions of the lagoon.
Picture: Facebook / #ReThinkTheStink