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Complaints flow in as sewage spills continue to pour into Zeekoevlei

The sewage spill near where the Lotus River discharges into Zeekoevlei. Picture: Supplied

The sewage spill near where the Lotus River discharges into Zeekoevlei. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 6, 2021

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Claim that City has ignored four requests by its protected areas advisory committee to release water test results for the area

Cape Town - The Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei said despite the City's assurance that pollution was contained in the Zeekoevlei, sewage continues to flow freely into the vlei via the Lotus River.

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This while the group said they were awaiting the water quality results they had requested from the City and had given it until Tuesday this week to respond – the same day the latest spill occurred.

Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei vice-chairperson Tom Schwerdtfeger said the City has ignored four requests by its protected areas advisory committee to release water test results for their area.

“As the Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei we are completely frustrated by the lack of communication and responsibility for this disaster by those officials who have attempted to wish these issues away and spin elaborate media releases that ignore the fact the Cape Flats Waste Water Treatment Works failed completely between July 12-13 when all of the Archimedes screws at the plant were inoperable. During this period an estimated 105 million litres of sewage poured into Zeekoevlei,” he said.

Schwerdtfeger said that in the absence of communication and the will to address the real problems from City officials, their remaining option was to institute legal proceedings against them and the City.

“Sewage is spilling into all three recreational vleis in Cape Town, and also in the streets of Athlone as of Tuesday. Only when the City acknowledges that there is a problem will we be able to do something about it,” he said.

Resident and researcher Vanessa Farr said even though they were witnessing the results of the City’s negligence and incompetence in managing water commons, academics and environmental activists in Zeekoevlei can neither test the water for hazardous waste, viruses and bacteria, nor demand such scientific information from the City.

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“Without such information, we know the City will keep denying the facts of its obvious incompetence in managing our wastewater systems. We also know the City will try to discredit us as observers of the unfolding tragedy: they will claim we speak without official data to back us up. They’ve created the perfect conditions in which to lie to citizens with science,” she said.

Mayco Member for Water and Waste Xanthea Limberg said the City's Water Strategy’s core tenet was to be open and transparent with citizens with respect to water quality data.

“Raw scientific data can, without context, lead to misinterpretation. The nature and quantum of requested data can also take a while to collate. The City is addressing the data requests accordingly,” she said.

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