Open Letter to Councillor Xanthea Limberg

Open Letter to Cllr. Xanthea Limberg

Dear Madam

Given the recent reporting of the dispute between the City of Cape Town and Quality Filtration System (QFS) in an excellent article written for Daily Maverick and some questions posed by John Quirk I would like to detail out some points of view.

The plant at Mouille Point to pump raw and untreated sewerage effluent in to the sea was commissioned by the City in 1983.  Immediately after commissioning there was a storm and the pipeline ruptured thus pouring the sewerage effluent a whole lot closer to shore than planned.

The Mouille Point sewerage outfall is not the only one in the vicinity pouring the human waste effluent into the sea.  There are three more viz. Hout Bay, Llandudno, and from the beach at Camps Bay.

All of these sewerage outfall pipelines follow the current from a south to north direction starting from Hout bay picking up the other three on the way and so by the time the current reaches Table Bay the concentration of untreated effluent may be huge or minimal depending on the conditions of current and wind for the time of year.

To build a desalination plant downstream of these plants is frankly mindless and I don’t know what ever could have got into the minds of the City Councillors and the bureaucracy of the City to do that.  Furthermore the question of legality of pumping this raw sewerage into the sea should not be an issue, but rather the morality and safety of the environment.  The question for Cllr. Limburg should be:  “why this effluent is not sent to an existing sewerage treatment works or new sewerage treatment works are not built to first treat the effluent before allowing this to run into the sea?”

Limberg in her answers to why there was such a huge divergence in the water quality of the sea water avoids all mention of sewerage outfall into the sea, let alone that these outfalls are raw and untreated effluent.  She cites only “urban runoff, household discharge, and storm water discharge, treated effluent from wastewater works, various marine outfalls and urban litter”.  Unless “marine outfalls” are raw and untreated sewerage outfalls then I suggest to her that she is not telling the truth. Please spell this out for the average citizen Councillor.

Last year the Cape Town City had an unspent couple of billion Rand in their finances.  Would it not make sense to spend some of the excess moneys on cleaning up the raw effluent?

Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

Water Rhapsody