Effluent outfalls causing a stink in Cape Town

The City of Cape Town operates three marine outfalls that discharge waste water 1,7 kms from the shoreline at a depth of 28 metres, where the effluent is supposedly safely dispersed away from the coast. The City of Cape Town has applied for a permit to comply with an Act that is six years old.

Aerial images showing plumes of effluent floating in the sea near Hout Bay and Camps Bay went viral on social media. Leslie Petrik, associate professor at the University of the Western Cape’s department of chemistry has said: “We’re at a situation where we’ve got 87 000 different chemical compounds that have not been tested for endocrine disruptions,” and “They are (also) potent carcinogens and could cause birth defects and genetic abnormalities.”

The city has called for public comment on its application to the national Department of Environmental Affairs to discharge effluent from its coastal outfalls. The city needs to apply for permits to continue using this method of effluent discharge. Zolile Nqayi, communications director for the Department of Environmental Affairs said: “the city’s plans to continue with this practice would hinge on an assessment of its impact on the environment.” and “Currently, these outfalls are also being assessed for compliance to the previous authorisations. Once such a process has been fully completed, the department will be in a position to disclose its view on the environmental impact from these outfalls.”

Nqayi said: “The department is currently reviewing all existing discharges which will assist the department’s decision to either prohibit or authorise the discharge with specific conditions.” New regulations were being drafted to deal with the sustainable discharge of effluent into all coastal environments.”

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