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Remedial work at Potsdam ‘ongoing’ as short-term interventions aim to address lagoon's stench

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Potsdam WWTW is benefiting from a R5 billion capacity upgrade from treating 47 million litres of wastewater per day to 100 million litres per day.PHOTO: Kailin Daniels
Potsdam WWTW is benefiting from a R5 billion capacity upgrade from treating 47 million litres of wastewater per day to 100 million litres per day.PHOTO: Kailin Daniels

After receiving ongoing complaints and the results of water samples taken at the Milnerton Lagoon due to the pollution, the City of Cape Town says they are implementing ongoing remedial work at Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW).

The remedial work will result in treating effluent received from homes, businesses and industries to a better quality.

The City says they have also implemented short-term interventions in the Milnerton Lagoon to address diffuse sources of pollution.

Short-term interventions

The Lower Diep River, including the Milnerton Lagoon, is in a poor ecological state due to diffuse sources of pollution.

The City says they have identified and implemented critical short-term interventions that address the quantity of pollution entering the system.

“The Directorate has sandbagged the Erica Road Outfall, creating a barrier between the pollution and the lagoon. The sandbags benefit the entire system by limiting lagoon water being pumped to Potsdam that Is functioning at capacity and protecting the lagoon from untreated sewage. This is a temporary solution and the impact thereof will still need to be established. The City has also conducted a high-level feasibility assessment of implementing a low flow diversion which will potentially do away with the need for pumping at Erica Road Outlet,” the City said in a media statement last week.

The City further mentioned that they are installing litter traps on identified stormwater outfalls that will capture solid waste before it enters the natural system. The litter traps will catch solid waste that enters the stormwater channels from Milnerton, Royal Ascott, Joe Slovo, and Phoenix.

This comes after numerous environmental groups and interested parties recently announced that, following weeks of visibly worsening lagoon water quality and a foul smell in the area, their investigations prove Potsdam is largely to blame.

They have took water samples on 4 November with the help of an accredited independent testing company.

The results showed treated effluent containing E Coli was being discharged into the Diep River at an estimated rate of over 36 million litres per day (equivalent to 18 Olympic size swimming pools).

Potsdam remedial work

Wastewater treatment works like Potsdam have an important function to ensure that wastewater from homes, businesses and industries is treated optimally to be released as effluent into the environment via our waterways for reuse purposes, the City says.

Since 2019, these are some key infrastructure investments have taken place like Refurbishing primary settlement tanks and a containing wall built.

“Our operational team progressively attends to the maintenance and refurbishing of the older infrastructure and equipment. This is, in addition, to gradually adding new technology and upgrading plant capacity between now and 2026,” says Siseko Mbandezi, acting Mayco member for water and sanitation.

Potsdam Upgrade

Potsdam WWTW is benefiting from a R5 billion capacity upgrade from treating 47 million litres of wastewater per day to 100 million litres per day.

The City is currently upgrading the Potsdam WWTW to increase its capacity to accommodate the urban growth in the area. Cutting-edge membrane technology is also being added to ensure high wastewater treatment standards.

Potsdam WWTW falls within the Diep River catchment. This is one of the largest catchments in the city at over 1 500 km² in size, half of which falls outside of the metro boundaries in the Swartland.

The Phase 1 demolition on the property is already complete.

The project is currently at the end of the procurement phase, with mechanical and civil tenders awarded to contractors subject to a 21-day appeal period, the Section 33 process being completed and Council budget approval.

A Section 33 process is required for projects exceeding three years, including a public participation process. It will require Council approval before entering into a contract with a service provider,” the City says.

Currently, the project is split into two components: Mechanical and electrical; as well as a civil tender.

Community meeting

The public is invited to attend the second quarterly meeting, where the City will provide an update on the condition of Milnerton Lagoon and current interventions to help improve its water quality.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 30 November from 18:30 to 21:00 at the Leibrand van Niekerk Community Hall in Table View.

Changes to these details will be communicated.

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