The City of Cape Town announced that the Zandvlei waterbody, located in the Zandvlei Nature Reserve, is open to the public for intermediate recreational use after it remained closed for four months as a precautionary measure following water quality concerns.
During this time, continuous water quality testing at various points within the Zandvlei waterbody remained a priority to track the levels and impact of pollution that entered the vlei.
According to a statement, the test results showed “persistent high levels of faecal coliforms (Escherichia coli) within the waterbody, which indicated an elevated risk to human health.”
The public was advised to avoid contact with the water until the levels are within national recreational water use guidelines. The Marina da Gama canals will remain closed though.
The closure of the Zandvlei waterbody also affected recreational users and residents alike, especially those who live in properties bordering on the vlei.
The City confirmed that the E. coli count has improved within the main waterbody, and is within the allowable threshold levels for intermediate contact at various points within the Zandvlei.
As the City of Cape Town outlines, residents are still advised that:
- the city’s urban waterways are generally subject to compromised water quality from various sources and may still pose a risk to their health.
- it’s highly recommended that full contact should be avoided, for example, swimming or doing recreational activities where the full body is immersed.
- sampling results are snapshots only of the E. coli counts at a particular time and at a specific sampling point within the larger waterbody. Although the City applies a comprehensive sampling effort to evaluate water quality, it’s not a complete reflection of the entire waterbody at all times.
- the current situation is subject to change and the water quality at Zandvlei remains at risk due to multiple factors.
- the Marina da Gama section remains closed to the public as the canals are still showing elevated E.coli counts.
- users should please keep the above in mind when considering using the main waterbody of the Zandvlei for recreational activities where the contact is intermediate.
“The vlei was directly impacted by a number of significant pollution incidents, including failures of the Clifton Road pump station in May and the Keyser River pump station in July. In both cases, the infrastructure had been severely damaged by solid objects in the line,” the City said. Furthermore, in August, officials discovered an overflowing manhole next to the Keyser River after the cover and frame had been stolen.
The Water and Sanitation Department is investing in measures to prevent the high volumes of dumped materials from entering the pump stations, while the City will keep on monitoring the water quality at Zandvlei and keep the public informed.