Cape Town – Cape Town Stadium should be converted into a hi-tech sewerage plant so the city can stop discharging about 50 million litres of untreated effluent in Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Green Point daily.
“A lack of suitable space on which to build a new sewerage treatment plant seems to be one of the biggest headaches for the municipality… but many people now want to know about the possibility of converting (Cape Town) stadium into a hi-tech sewerage plant,” said Afriforum’s provincial co-ordinator Stefan Pieterse.
The proposal has been echoed by the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance in a letter to several national government departments. The alliance refuted the city’s argument that it did not have land to build alternative sewage disposal facilities.
“In Green Point, there is a huge piece of land where the stadium presently stands, and in Camps Bay the city owns plenty of land around the Glen Club,” said Len Swimmer, deputy chairman of the alliance, that represents 160 civic groups and ratepayers’ associations.
The city last week applied for a permit to discharge sew age from its three coastal outflow pipes, as per legislation that came into effect in 2009. The applications are available for public comment until July 10.
Photographs of plumes of sewage and effluent floating along the coast, close to Blue Flag beaches, has sparked concern that the city’s outflow systems are unable to cope with the increased demands for waste disposal.
But Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services, said the outfalls were properly designed and functioning and did not pose a risk to the environment or beachgoers. The city had other pressing needs, such as securing water resources, and building a second treatment facility at these sites was not a priority.
Swimmer said Hout Bay in particular was a “double jeopardy environmental crime”.
In a letter to the departments of health, forestry and fisheries, tourism and trade and industry, Swimmer said: “The fact is that Hout Bay is a bay within a bay – it is part of the larger bay stretching as far as Kommetjie.” The new coastal regulations prohibit sewage outfalls from being pumped into a bay, he said. Hout Bay needed a proper sewerage plant.
“Councillor Sonnenberg defends the outfall method as the most cost effective way to deal with the problem of sewage disposal, but we really need to interrogate whether it is so – and this we ask you to consider for the benefit of all the people in Cape Town.”
Pieterse said: “Cape Town cannot flush away its sewage problem in the ocean, or simply apply for a permit to legalise it. This is a challenge the municipality must look square in the eyes some time or another and bring forward some innovative solutions.”
Afriforum has launched an online petition in a bid to get 20 000 objections that can be submitted to the city before the public comment period closes.
“It is not only the sewage that is causing a major upset, but thousands of litres of hazardous chemicals that are pumped into the ocean every month,” said Pieterse.
Dr Jo Barnes, lecturer in epidemiology and community health at the University of Stellenbosch, said the effluent contained “many” disease-causing organisms, chemicals, disinfectants and pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics and personal care products. There were also “emerging pollutants” such as hormones, anti-inflammatory drugs, caffeine, fats, oils and greases.
Barnes said the city did not have a back-up plan if the system failed or the bay became too polluted.