Cape Town - Reports based on a study done by UCT professor Edda Weimann, which claims that E coli is a threat for young children and people with immune deficiencies swimming at Cape Town's popular Clifton beach have been slammed as "alarmist and sensational".
Cape Town's Mayco councillor for Health Benedicta van Minnen said in a statement, "I would like to reassure the public that Cape Town’s popular bathing spots are safe for swimming and other recreational use. If problems arise, as they do in beaches around the world, we will act immediately – as we have done in the past."
Referring to the Cape Times report, Van Minnen said it was perplexing that the report had chosen to use "out of date findings", since the study had been conducted two years ago.
The study showed that water quality tests showed “between 10(4) and 10(6)”, indicating the beach could be affected by waste water due to polluted rivers, major shipping routes or outlets of human settlements. Weimann also said the “frightening” results have been completely ignored and was most-likely "worse this year".
The E coli threat was also attributed to tests carried out by the Wildlife and Environmental Society of SA (Wessa) a week ago, showing elevated levels of E coli.
Wessa, the organisation responsible for managing the Blue Flag programme of which Clifton is an awarded beach for 2014, confirmed the risk of E coli but said a test done two days later showed the situation had cleared up.
How often these levels fluctuate have not been confirmed with the department of environmental affairs but Van Minnen said the threat of pollution is one that is actively manage on a daily basis and it does pose a great challenge for the City of Cape Town administration.
Van Minnen said the City is not directly responsible for the state of coastal waters but it does monitor the situation every second week, through sample sites set up at popular bathing spots along the False Bay and Atlantic coastlines.
In the statement Van Minnen referred to the closure of Hout Bay Beach earlier in the year due to pollution, saying the city communicates any unsuitable bathing conditions through "appropriate warning messages, including signage".
"As the city with the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in the country, we trust that the facts will speak for themselves and our residents and visitors will continue to enjoy our beaches this summer," said Van Minnen.