Table View residents have been complaining of an unbearable, unpleasant, stench in the air since the new year began. At the time, The City said that an accumulation of sludge at the Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Plant on Koeberg Road, one of the major treatment works of the City of Cape Town, was to blame and there was not much they could do to resolve the issue.

However, they have now confirmed that sludge removal services will commence at wastewater plants this week to eliminate the smell.

“The City is pleased to advise that tenders have been awarded and contracts concluded for the removal and disposal of sludge from Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) across the city, following an appeals process which delayed this service being rendered. Work to address the backlog will begin as soon as soon as possible,” reads a statement from the City on Tuesday, January 26.

Sludge, which is a by-product of the wastewater treatment process, needed to be stockpiled at these facilities because the tender for its removal and disposal was appealed, and therefore could not be awarded until the appeals process had concluded.

“The City sincerely regrets the discomfort caused to residents as a result of the appeals against the awarding of the contract. I want to apologise to our residents for this discomfort, and assure them that the City has done absolutely everything in its power to move this tender along in the shortest possible timeframe,” said Alderman Dan Plato, the City’s Executive Mayor.

“However the City is bound by the provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and the Supply Chain Management Regulations. It is a regulatory-heavy environment and the City is compelled to adhere to the national legislation. Appeal processes are provided for and must be followed.”

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste, Alderman Xanthea Limberg, said work to tackle the backlog of sludge stockpiled at a number of facilities will begin as soon as possible, before the end of the week.

“Once the work commences, residents might experience some foul smells for a few days as the sludge starts being removed. During this time, we ask residents to please bear with us as every effort will be made to clear the backlog as soon as possible and to ensure the normal daily service resumes.

“While the stockpiling of sludge at the WwTW has been a problem warranting priority attention, it is important to understand that it was a procurement challenge, as opposed to a process operation matter. It is unrelated to the Potsdam WwTW plant’s effective treatment of wastewater. The WwTW is operating within its design capacity and has been producing good quality effluent consistently since problems with the mechanical dewatering installation were resolved early in 2020.

“Unfortunately, Potsdam’s stockpile smells as it is one of the plants that produce primary sludge. We have not reduced primary sludge production specifically to ensure treated effluent quality remains unaffected. The sludge currently stockpiled on-site at Potsdam are stored in such a manner as to minimise the effect on the environment. Sludge cake is stockpiled in a clay-lined pond to avoid contamination of groundwater, and cannot overflow into the environment or reach the Diep River,” concluded Limberg.

Picture: Aurecon Group

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