Sewage nothing new

2015-06-16 06:01

Sewage outflows in the sea at Green Point and Camps Bay are nothing new, the council says, after a permit application was advertised to allow the discharge of effluent water into the sea there.

Cape Town is currently operating three long sea outfalls, with the third in Hout Bay.

At a recent ward 54 committee meeting, City officials explained that these outfalls have been operating for many years and expel roughly 5% of all the water treated at the City’s water treatment plants.

The Green Point outfall sees on average 900m litres expelled each month. This is discharged 1.7km out to sea at a depth of 30 meters. The effluent water is treated before it is discharged, with any solid mass bigger than 3mm removed.

A similar process is followed with the 79m litres expelled monthly at Camps Bay, with the discharge taking place 1.3km off the coast.

Divers regularly inspect the pipeline and regular tests for E.coli levels are carried out.

Although details of the permit have not been made public, the paperwork comes as a result of a shift in national government rather than changes to the City’s waste management, says mayoral committee member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg.

This new application relates to a change in the licensing requirements for marine sewage outfalls. Despite already having existing licenced marine outfalls, the City was required by the Integrated Coastal Management Act to undertake a public participation process, Sonnenberg says.

“This process has been the source of confusion around whether the outfalls were licensed and previously existed or not. The necessary paperwork for these outfalls has been in place for the past 30 years. This new process is simply the City bringing operations in line with the new regulatory framework. Furthermore, sewage is preliminarily treated, regular monitoring on three coastlines takes place, and there is no indication or evidence that the outfalls impact negatively on the marine surf zones.”

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