No Blue Flag status for Hout Bay beach

Xolisile Mama, head of solid waste cleansing: Atlantic division, said the harbour area was identified as the major polluter.

There is “zero” chance of Hout Bay Beach attaining Blue Flag status this year.

This emerged during a Hout Bay River Corridor Management strategy workshop at Kronendal Primary School on Wednesday March 8.

The meeting, chaired by Terry Murphy of the Hout Bay River Catchment Forum, highlighted the issues impacting the state of the rivers and ocean and included insights from several City departments.

Mr Murphy said that achieving Blue Flag status had been on the forum’s radar for some 12 years, but the City’s Blue Flag representative, Edward Knott, was clear in his response.

“There is zero chance of getting Blue Flag status this year. We do not have four years’ worth of water sampling data for Hout Bay’s intended bathing season, which is a prerequisite for application, and the applications are due on April 28 2017.”

He said until water quality challenges were addressed, it would be very hard to attain Blue Flag status.

Resident Dr Penny Brown alluded to the raw sewage being pumped into Camps Bay and said she believed the sewage situation in Hout Bay was much worse.

The south-easter, she said, blew on-shore and the bay was a “bay within a larger bay”, the larger being Duiker Point to Slangkop, so the sewage was kept within the larger bay limits.

However, Mr Knott said the City did not not pump raw sewage into the sea anywhere.

“The outfalls use preliminary treatment which includes dilution as well as removal of solids prior to release. The system rapidly dilutes the effluent to at least 100:1 at the immediate exit point of the outfall. This corresponds to a 99 percent reduction in contaminant con-
centrations in the receiving water, which is far beyond the ca-
pabilities of even advanced conventional treatment processes,” he said.

He said the dilution process resulted in a “very substantial contaminant reduction”

“Bacteria are further controlled by locating the outfall so that transport of wastewater to beaches or other water contact areas is virtually eliminated. Diffuser mixing is therefore usually much more important than treatment in mitigating environmental impacts,” he said.

He said extensive research had shown that the outfall was working as designed and that the waste water did not accumulate in the bay.

“Beaches in proximity to the marine outfalls show no additional E. coli burden. In fact, beaches such as Clifton and Camps Bay have successfully retained Blue Flag status over many years which would not be possible if the outfalls were contaminating our inshore waters.

“Hout Bay’s inshore waters, rather than being polluted by the long sea outfalls, are polluted due to numerous sources of near-shore pollution including the harbour, vessels in the harbour, informal settlements, and local stormwater systems.”

Xolisile Mama, head of solid waste cleansing: Atlantic division, said the harbour area had been identified as the major polluter.

“The already-polluted Disa River is also discharging waste into the sea,” he said.

In terms of the rivers, Abdullah Parker of the City’s stormwater and sustainability department, said “most of the time” Hout Bay’s E.coli levels met accepted standards.

“However, as one goes further downstream it gets worse, particularly around the Victoria Bridge area.”

Numerous reasons were cited for this, including the presence of animal matter and chemicals
from washing powder in the
water.

Recently, the City had implemented a number of “quick-win” projects for Imizamo Yethu and Hout Bay River. These included the laying of sewerage pipes, closing the existing culvert on Nelson Mandela Drive.

The City had, however, encountered numerous issues in laying pipelines, chief among which was newcomers to Imizamo Yethu building shacks on top of the infrastructure.

“The obvious solution is to take these houses away, but these houses need to go somewhere which is the problem that is facing us,” said the City’s Talcott Persent.

The land invasion unit had been monitoring the housing situation closely, but once a shack was inhabited for a brief period of time it was very difficult for occupants to be moved.

Accordingly, Mr Persent called for police, law enforcement and neighbourhood watches to assist in the monitoring process to prevent people from erecting shacks illegally.

Questions were also asked from the floor on the possibility of establishing a silt trap and retention pond to serve as a backup to the grey water system below Victoria Road.

Mr Parker said this was a good idea, but with the ongoing drought the City had to prioritise its projects.

“There are areas such as Manenberg which are in desperate need of assistance,” he said.