Cape Town poo sludge contract dispute resolved

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The Potsdam wastewater treatment plant.
The Potsdam wastewater treatment plant.
Jenni Evans, News24
  • The poo smell over Cape Town's Milnerton and Table View should start fading as a dispute over the contract to remove the sludge has been resolved.
  • The smell will continue for a few days while the pile of sludge is collected.
  • The City of Cape Town hopes this will begin by the end of the week.


The overwhelming smell of poo over Cape Town's Milnerton and Table View should start fading soon as the dispute over the contract to remove the sludge has been resolved, the City of Cape Town said.

The smell will continue for a few days while the pile of sludge that has built up is collected.

The City hopes this will begin before the end of this week.

Once the work commences, residents might experience some foul smells for a few days as the sludge is removed.

The sludge, which is a by-product of the wastewater treatment process, needed to be stockpiled while the tender for its removal and disposal was appealed, hence the stench.

READ | Stench has Cape Town residents gagging amid wastewater plant tender appeal

During the process, a contract could not be implemented, hence the stockpile and the smell.

Procurement problem

The tender value is approximately R200 million over three financial years.

"The City sincerely regrets the discomfort caused to residents as a result of the appeals against the awarding of the contract," Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato said.

The City's Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste Alderman Xanthea Limberg said once work starts, residents might experience some foul smells for a few days as the sludge is 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," she said.

She added that a procurement problem had led to the sludge removal backlog and the smell. She said it was not a process operation matter.

She said sludge cake is stockpiled in a clay-lined pond to avoid the contamination of groundwater, and cannot overflow into the environment or reach the Diep River.

Last year, GroundUp reported that the treated effluent from the Potsdam plant is used notably by Astron Energy, which operates the fuel refinery over the road, as well as for irrigation by farmers, Century City and MyCiTi.

It also flows into the Diep River, which becomes the Milnerton Lagoon before flowing out to sea.

At one point, the treatment quality of the effluent going into the river was so poor that the Green Scorpions issued a directive to the City of Cape Town to remedy the state of the Milnerton Lagoon downstream.

The Astron refinery was also not able to use the treated effluent water as it usually does for its processes and, at one point, had to use precious municipal water.

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