The City Cape Town is building a new pump station that could spell an end to the frequent sewage spills plaguing Zandvlei Nature Reserve and Estuary.
The new sewage pump station in Military Road, Retreat, will replace the existing one, which has reached the end of its lifespan.
“The construction of the new pump station will drastically improve operations,” said mayoral committee member for water and waste services, Xanthea Limberg.
The 15-month R85 million project, which started in August, would include the rehabilitation of a 1.2km-long sewer line, Ms Limberg said.
Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl said Expanded Public Works Programme workers – paid from ward-allocation funds – had been cleaning the vlei since February.
“I am greatly saddened by how humans are treating our beautiful estuary and simply dumping their waste,” she said.
Money used on cleaning could be used on other “strategic projects”, she said.
The latest sewage spill – this one entering from the Westlake River – was reported by Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve manager, Kyran Wright, on Saturday, October 19.
Organic cleaning agents had been used, but the raw effluent was likely to have entered the main water body, he said.
Vlei users had been warned to avoid the northern shoreline until the City had done water sampling this week to gauge the severity of the spill.
Mike Ryder, a Marina da Gama resident and member of Grey Environmental Warriors, has installed four rubbish-catchment nets in the Sand River canal in the Marina waterway. His concerns include the sewage spills and inflow of rubbish from the canal system upstream from Zandvlei.
Mr Ryder said Zandvlei management protocols called for the vlei mouth to be opened during spring tides in the summer months.
Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt, said the vlei mouth was being opened for up to two days on either side of spring tides to allow flushing and fish migrations.
The vlei had been closed to recreational users from Friday September 27 to Thursday October 10 but water quality was now within acceptable limits for intermediate contact, she said.
“According to the latest bacteriological samples, the vlei has recovered to acceptable levels (under 1 100 cfu/100ml E.coli).”
The City, she added, always advised water users against full immersion in the water due to what she called the “dynamic nature of an urban estuary and potential run-off from the surrounding catchment”.
The vlei had been closed this month, according to the City’s protocols, to ensure tidal flushing and fish migration while “trapping an elevated water level to provide sufficient vlei depth for recreation and the protection of Marina da Gama property revetment’s”, she said.
Ms Limberg said the City’s water and sanitation department planned to release a report on inland water quality annually.
Inland water-quality sampling is done once a month. Ms Limberg said it was possible that raw data from the sampling could be provided to sub-councils but interpreting it would require “highly specialised knowledge around water-quality parameters”.
In most cases, the general condition of a particular water body did not change much over a month, she said, so there was limited value in using resources to report on those changes more often.