City of Cape Town rapped over knuckles for sewage leak in False Bay Nature Reserve

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The Western Cape Government has issued the City of Cape Town with a pre-directive over pollution in the False Bay Nature Reserve
The Western Cape Government has issued the City of Cape Town with a pre-directive over pollution in the False Bay Nature Reserve
Duncan Alfreds, News24
  • The City of Cape Town has been issued a pre-directive over pollution in the False Bay Nature Reserve.
  • The case was investigated by the Green Scorpions earlier this month.
  • The pollution appears to have been caused by a sewage leak.

The Western Cape government has issued the City of Cape Town with a pre-directive over pollution in the False Bay Nature Reserve. The pollution appears to have been caused by a sewage leak.

The pre-directive comes after an investigation by the provincial Green Scorpions into pollution reports in the reserve earlier this month.

According to the Western Cape Department of Environment Affairs, the City had seven days to make representations as to why a directive in terms of Section 28 of the National Environmental Management Act should not be issued.

The pre-directive also called for the City to provide a rehabilitation plan with adequate remedial measures, among other instructions, to prevent pollution in the reserve.

"Our environmental management inspectors confirmed that significant pollution of the environment has been caused as a result of a faulty manhole leaking sewerage into the False Bay Nature Reserve.

"This resulted in the decision to issue the City with this pre-directive, and if necessary, a directive may follow," said Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell.

READ | Green Scorpions order City of Cape Town to sort out pollution in Milnerton Lagoon

According to the City's mayoral committee member for water and waste services, Xanthea Limberg, the spill was the result of infrastructure damage due to illegal dumping into the sewer system, significant stormwater ingress and the damaged manholes.

"A draft action plan has been compiled to address the rehabilitation and repair required, including for the infrastructure of the roads and picnic area, the terrestrial ecosystem and banks of the vlei, as well as the water body.

"A consultant will be appointed to assist with a detailed plan. Some urgent superficial cleaning of the banks is already taking place."

Limberg added general investigations continued in the area to assess whether any further factors could be contributing to the spill.

"The City will continue to engage with stakeholders, including provincial government, on the progress of this matter and to find ways to address concerns holistically. The draft action plan sets out steps starting immediately, through to April 2022," she said. 

READ | City of Cape Town tells residents the water is safe to drink

If a directive is issued, the City will be ordered to contain or prevent the movement of pollutants or the cause of the degradation, eliminate any source of the pollution or degradation and remedy the effects of the pollution or degradation.

"Failure to comply with a directive is an offence, and a person convicted of such an offence is liable to a fine not exceeding R10 million or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

"We believe it will not come to that, and we call on the City to urgently remedy the situation before we have to issue a directive," said Bredell.

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