The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Cape Town, Nature

Coastal Crisis: Cape Town’s “Dirty Secret” Threatens Ocean Health

Michael Hawthorne

Cape Town has submitted a report to the Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment summarizing the results of a recent 60-day public comment period regarding discharge permits for the city’s marine outfalls. The report includes comments and concerns raised by the public, and the Minister will consider these inputs before deciding on appeals to permits granted by the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE).

The City commissioned a scoping study in 2023 exploring future alternatives for treating effluent currently discharged through marine outfalls. The study outlines short-, medium-, and long-term options to improve the treatment of effluent, along with associated estimated costs.

“The City thanks every person who made a submission during the 60-day comment period,” said Councillor Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation. “There is a clear public desire which aligns with the City’s strategic objectives to improve the treatment of the effluent currently discharged at the outfalls.”

Public feedback indicated the biggest concern was effluent treatment quality, with technology and methods being a common theme in the submitted comments. The City of Cape Town is committed to investing significantly in infrastructure to improve wastewater treatment and sewer systems for the benefit of inland and coastal water quality.

Addressing the Future of Outfalls

The scoping study presents several options for the City to consider:

The City emphasizes that coastal outfalls are common practice worldwide and follow local environmental guidelines. Currently, 95% of Cape Town’s wastewater is discharged from wastewater treatment works, compared to 5% from marine outfalls.

Public Outcry Over Raw Sewage Outflows: Cape Town Residents Demand Change

Cape Town residents are voicing fierce opposition to the continued practice of pumping raw, untreated sewage into the ocean at Camps Bay, Hout Bay, and Green Point. A flood of public comments submitted to the City of Cape Town highlights widespread concern over the environmental and health hazards posed by this outdated practice.

Mounting Concerns: Health, Environment, and Tourism

Residents are deeply worried about the impact of sewage outflows on marine life, human health, and the city’s reputation as a premier tourist destination:

Call for Sustainable Solutions

The resounding sentiment among Cape Town residents is that the current sewage disposal system is unacceptable. They are demanding a shift towards sustainable, responsible waste management:

Conclusion From Public Comment

The public outcry over Cape Town’s marine outflows reflects a growing awareness of the dire environmental and social consequences of outdated waste management practices. Residents are no longer willing to turn a blind eye to the pollution of their beloved ocean and are demanding urgent action from the city to find safe and sustainable solutions.

Full Report: Marine_Outfalls_PP_Outcomes_Report.pdf
Public Comments: Marine_Outfalls_PP_Outcomes_Report_Appendix_E.pdf


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