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Potsdam sewage plant upgrade to address Milnerton Lagoon ecological crisis welcomed

The FF Plus welcomes the five-year project to upgrade the Potsdam sewage treatment plant to address the Milnerton Lagoon’s ecological crisis.

The more than R5 billion budgeted for the project will be used to increase the Potsdam sewage treatment plant’s capacity to treat wastewater.

Untreated, polluted water currently runs into the Lagoon and the Theo Marais storm water channel.

The Milnerton Lagoon was once a popular destination visited by Capetonians and tourists, but with the current level of pollution, any water activities are carried out at own risk.

The stench coming off the Milnerton Lagoon is another clear sign that the Lagoon’s water is severely polluted.

The FF Plus was informed last year, during the Metro’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation’s oversight visit to the Potsdam plant and the Joe Slovo informal settlement, that Potsdam is not the cause of the pollution of the Milnerton Lagoon.

The City of Cape Town has, however, frequently contradicted itself when commenting on the matter, and undertook to improve the quality of the plant’s effluent as part of the project.

Initially, all the blame was placed on the untreated run-off from the surrounding informal settlements located upstream.

The FF Plus concurs that the establishment of informal settlements and the influx of residents from other parts of the country and even neighbouring countries are, to a large extent, responsible for the pollution of Cape Town’s water sources.

The current storm water and sewage systems are not able to handle all the extra sewage.

A solution is required, which should include relocating informal settlements as well as possibly repurposing the current storm water drainage system as an additional sewage treatment system.

The City of Cape Town should, furthermore, consider bringing criminal charges against those who deliberately pollute Cape Town’s marshes, lagoons and storm water systems.

Although educating the public could help to conserve the environment, law-enforcement actions should also be taken to prevent the deliberate destruction of Cape Town’s ecology.

The FF Plus will monitor the situation and submit proposals to the Portfolio Committee to help protect all Capetonians’ constitutional right to live and work in an environment that is not harmful to their wellbeing.

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