City releases anti-pollution plans for Diep River Catchment

16 Mar 2020 in Where We Govern

The City of Cape Town has released comprehensive plans to combat pollution in the Diep River catchment area. The plans are part of a broader programme to deal with the growing societal challenge of pollution across the City’s catchments in line with the newly launched Cape Town Water Strategy. The strategy aims to transition to a ‘water-sensitive city’ over the next 20 years, with safe access to water and sanitation for all.

Long-term trends show that pollution is a chronic problem, particularly in the Diep River, Soet River, Kuils River, Disa River, Lotus River and Salt River catchments. Many of these are ‘hard-working’ catchments with a number of contributing sources such as Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW), informal settlements and dense, hardened industrial and commercial areas.

Plans to comprehensively address pollution in the Diep River catchment and Milnerton Lagoon include:

  • Increased Water Pollution Task Team activity to crack down on illicit discharges from neighbouring industrial areas. An enforcement blitz targeted by-law violations in the Montague Gardens industrial area last week.
  • Pumping of polluted water out of Erica Road and Theo Marais Canals into the sewer system for treatment, with weekly cleaning of Bayside Canal
  • Robust clearing of litter from pipes, canals and outlets
  • Regular clearing of invasive vegetation from the Diep River
  • Critical short-term repairs at Potsdam WWTW over the next one to two months, which will result in a higher quality treated effluent
  • Stormwater upgrades worth R57,5 million over the next three to five years will improve sewerage treatment and diversion from informal settlements in Dunoon and Joe Slovo
  •  The combined rand value of the various sewer system upgrades already completed in recent years is approximately R77,2 million, and this excludes approximately R2 million spent on clearing blockages in the stormwater system since July 2019

Plans will be monitored and reviewed on an ongoing basis. The City will further be consulting with industry, residents and stakeholders on how best we can work together to confront these challenges.

Last week the City’s Executive Mayor Alderman Dan Plato inspected the R1,75 billion upgrade underway at Potsdam WWTW. The City’s Mayoral Committee (Mayco) is set to monitor the upgrade to ensure it is moving ahead as quickly as possible. Infrastructural upgrades of this scale typically have a project timeline of between eight and 10 years, placing the status of this investment at approximately 50% complete.

The plant’s capacity will be doubled over the next three to five years. New membrane technology will see that treated effluent discharged from the plant is close to potable standards.

A task team is meeting weekly on Potsdam and monthly progress reports on general anti-pollution efforts will be submitted to Mayco and the relevant subcouncils.