Construction begins on R5.2bn Potsdam Wastewater Works upgrade

03 Aug 2023 in Where We Govern

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis on Wednesday visited the Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works to mark the start of construction on this major R5.2bn upgrade, the Western Cape’s second largest infrastructure project. The City aims to finalise the upgrade in 2027, with the operational trial starting in 2026. The City’s goal to steadily restore the environmental health of the Milnerton Lagoon through a combination of infrastructure upgrades and dredging of the waterbody to remove pollution build-up in sediment. Read more below.

The upgrade is set to double the plant’s capacity to handle the needs of a growing city, from 47 to 100 million litres of treated wastewater per day. Cutting-edge membrane technology will be progressively added to ensure high wastewater treatment standards.

Other major sewerage infrastructure upgrades underway in the vicinity include the R430m Montague Gardens Bulk Sewer Rehabilitation, R118m Koeberg Pump Station Upgrade, and long-term pump station and pipe replacement programmes.

‘The R5.2bn Potsdam upgrade is a critical part of our plan to restore the environmental health of Milnerton Lagoon, which is a non-negotiable for the City. The aim is to steadily close off pollution sources to the lagoon over time, building up to the ultimate goal of dredging the water body to remove the sediment containing the decades-long build-up of pollution.

‘The installation of cutting-edge wastewater treatment tech at Potsdam will be dovetailed with the completion of dredging at the lagoon, in around two years.

‘This is a Priority Programme of this administration, and we are closely tracking the multi-billion rand upgrades to Potsdam and the surrounding sewer network to ensure these are completed timeously,’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.

Cape Town is massively ramping up infrastructure investment, with a 223% increase in its Water and Sanitation infrastructure budget over three years, from R2,3 billion in 2022/23 to R7,8 billion in 2025/26. Highlights include:

  • R8,6 billion capital expenditure on WWTW upgrades over three years
  • R1,3 billion for sewer spill responsiveness including the proactive jet-cleaning of 200km of sewers annually
  • R1,4 billion in bulk sewer upgrades to the Cape Flats, Milnerton, Philippi and Gordon’s Bay lines.
  • Quadrupling pipe replacement from 25km in 2021/22 to 100km annually, worth R850 million total over three years.

Short-term actions to combat pollution

Councillor Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, said the City is taking a range of short term actions to combat pollution in the Diep River catchment.

‘We have just installed over 20 litter nets all along the Diep River, and expanded our waste interception to the Black and Salt Rivers as well as the Jakkalsvlei canal. We are also investigating and correcting cross connections created by residents from Stormwater and Sewer pipes, alongside ongoing by-law enforcement operations.

‘We are also making progress on critical maintenance work to improve treated effluent quality at Potsdam, including major cleaning work to maturation ponds and the re-engineering of natural reed beds to prevent pollution from reaching the Diep River.

‘Collaboration with local communities and civil society stakeholders, information sharing, and public involvement are essential aspects of our action plan,’ said Cllr Badroodien.