DA exposes the disproportionate scale of coastal outfalls

Issued by Dave Bryant MP – DA Shadow Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment
29 Mar 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dave Bryant MP.

A recent response to a question from the DA has exposed that approximately 77% of all sewage being released via coastal outfalls is coming from the ANC-governed province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. KZN has permission to discharge 147,040,250 cubic meters of sewage every year, the majority of which (57%) is released into estuaries. A further staggering statistic is that this waste is licensed to be discharged from only 21 outfalls. This is in comparison to the DA-led Western Cape which has the highest number of existing outfalls (81), yet still only releases a quarter of the volume that KZN does in total.

Whilst the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) has confirmed that the licenced discharge of wastewater into the ocean is common practice around the world, DA-led governments such as the City of Cape Town are doing all they can to reduce the amount of sewage being released, coupled with efforts to ensure that treatment facilities are upgraded and improved. The DFFE has confirmed in a statement that there are no direct risks to human health relating to any of the marine outfalls in Cape Town. The local DA councillors in Cape Town, along with the Mayor are working with local residents, attending community meetings and personally visiting coastal discharge sites to ensure compliance with minimum standards.

Sadly, in the ANC-led eThekwini municipality a whopping 75% of the 27 sewage treatment plants are unable to treat effluent to minimum standards. Damaged sewage pipes often take months to fix, and in the process discharge rivers of raw waste into environmentally sensitive areas. This has raised concerns regarding the overall quality of water at many Durban beaches, particularly over holiday seasons.

Whilst it is not currently possible to do away with marine outfalls completely, forward thinking governments like those in the DA-led Western Cape will continue to do all they can to maintain water treatment infrastructure and minimise the amount of waste being released where possible. In June the City of Cape Town will be receiving an infrastructure upgrade feasibility report for the existing marine outfalls. This report will evaluate alternatives to these outfalls and new technologies to lessen their environmental impact.

Our precious natural environment, along with the health and safety of all South Africans remains one of our key priorities where the DA governs and we will continue to improve and work with communities wherever we can.