Residents in the Table View, Big Bay and Blouberg Strand areas are up in arms after a pump station at the Bloubergstrand Beachfront pumped sewage into the water.
Beach-goers were asked to avoid the beach area near Café Blouberg on February 22 when the spill was noticed by members of the Table View Rate Payers Association.
The pump reportedly tripped after load shedding and no warning alarm or system was properly in place to notify relevant officials that the station was spilling sewerage onto the beach.
According to the Table View Rate Payers Association, it took 18 hours from when the incident was reported by residents for the pump to be attended to and switched back on. The stench from the spill was strong and terribly nauseating for residents in the area.
“On Saturday 22 February the pump station at Bloubergstrand failed temporarily due to load-shedding, which resulted in a sewage spill. The relevant departments were notified immediately and they responded. Both Coastal Management and City Health departments sent staff to the site on Saturday and Sunday. Pollution warnings were installed at the site. The City monitored the area and the cleaning process continued today when the tide was low,” says Xanthea Limberg, the City of Cape Town’s Mayco Member for Water and Waste.
Yesterday [February 24] a suction pump truck visited the Bloubergstrand beachfront to carry out cleaning attempts on the contaminated water. During the cleanup, a worker slipped and fell on the rocks and has reportedly broken his arm.
On the same day at approximately 12.30pm, residents notified the Water and Sanitation Department of more sewage flowing from outflows onto the beach to the left of Blue Peter Hotel and Spanish Steps houses. The Pellegrini sewage pump had failed, residents reported that it had been unattended for 48 hours.
“Pump stations are fitted with telemetric alarm systems to allow teams to respond when an incident occurs. Alerts triggered via the telemetric systems at pump stations are sent by radio but transmission/reception has been slower during load-shedding. Even with mobile operators rerouting to other towers, to compensate for battery theft or low capacity of batteries at towers, there has been an impact on these systems associated with load-shedding,” says Limberg.
“The fact that there is no warning system that notifies the authorities immediately that a sewerage pump is down is a HUGE problem. Even if load shedding is the cause for the pumps to trip; it should be mandatory that all pumps should be checked that they are operating after an episode of load shedding,” said the Table View Rate Payers Association in a Facebook post.
The smell of sewage is now present on three sites along the Blouberg beachfront and residents are concerned that the continued contamination and lack of immediate response could lead to serious medical conditions. The Association is asking anyone feeling ill after visiting the beach to contact them.
“We appeal to the public that has been on these beaches over the weekend and are feeling ill to contact the Table View Ratepayers Association on [email protected],” it said.
Pictures: Facebook/Table View Rate Payers Association