Sewage spill closes tidal pool

Strandfontein Pavilion’s tidal pool was closed at the weekend because of a sewage spill caused by a malfunction at the Spine Road pump station.

The smell and sight of raw sewage greeted anglers and beach goers. The pool was closed on Saturday.

“The tidal pool was not affected as the spill was contained,” said mayoral committee for community service and health Dr Zahid Badroodien. The pool had since been re-opened on Monday, he said.

However, a picture taken by angler Andre Arendse, from Bayview, on Sunday clearly shows effluent from an overflowing manhole running into the tidal pool. He said the pool still stank and looked discoloured yesterday Tuesday October 5.

Dr Badroodien said raw sewage contained disease-causing pathogens including viruses, bacteria, worms and protozoa.

“The contaminated sewage water could result in an outbreak of water-borne diseases ranging from diarrhoea to potentially life-threatening illnesses such as cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery and hepatitis B.

“Children, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems face added risk of contracting serious illnesses,” he said.

This picture, taken on Sunday, shows effluent from an overflowing manhole running into Strandfontein Pavilion tidal pool.

Dr Badroodien said the City’s health department had posted two warning signs near the tidal pool.

Water samples would be taken today, Wednesday October 6, for analysis.

“The situation will be monitored to ensure that the unhygienic conditions that persist receive the necessary urgent action,” said Dr Badroodien.

Mr Arendse said it was not the first sewage spill to contaminate the pool and the beach.

Last year, at the start of the national Covid-19 lockdown, there had been a spill, and, in 2019, he had been privy to discussions to have the sewerage pipe moved away from the pool, he said.

Yesterday, Tuesday October 5, Mr Arendse told the Plainsman that the pool water was contaminated, that it reeked and was brown.

During the first spill many of the organisms, including algae, muscles and crabs, had died.

“I’m an avid conservation enthusiast and something must be done to preserve the natural habitat of our sea creatures, be aware of people who fish in the area and that their produce is not contaminated,” he said.

Community activist and avid shoreline fisherman, Keith Blake, from Ottery, fishing further down the coast, was alerted to the spill on Sunday October 3.

He alerted Gregg Oelofse, City manager for coastal management and integrated urban management, who replied that a transformer leading to the Spine Road pump station had exploded, which had resulted in the sewage spill

“It is unhealthy and unhygienic. Waste is finding its way into the sea,“ said Mr Blake.

He called on the City of Cape Town to act swiftly to clear up or stop swimming “as we all know the danger of raw sewage”.

Mr Blake said he was concerned about what would happen when people flocked to the area in summer.

City signs have been posted warning of pollution in the water.

Mr Oelofse’s email response to Mr Blake read: “City officials responded yesterday to address the pump station and City Health installed pollution signs in the tidal pool.”

Mayoral committee member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said the portion of the beach from the tidal pool to the NSRI office was affected and not suitable for use.

“Pollution levels will be monitored by means of scientific sample testing,” she said.

A mobile generator was being used for manual pumping to minimise further contamination.

Ms Limberg said the City’s water and sanitation department would continue with this operation until the transformer was fully restored.

Phindile Maxiti, mayoral committee member for energy and climate change, said the transformer was scheduled for replacement yesterday.

“The City sincerely apologises for the situation and we view the upgrade work as a priority,” he said.