Zandvlei Trust

Sewerage spills into Zandvlei's Rivers  Feb March 2006.

Eskom the National electricity supplier, implemented power outages in the Western Cape in February and March 2006. This had massive repercussions for many people in the these areas.

These disruptions to the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape ensued with no pre planning or warnings of these power cuts. Business, Industry and household managers could not plan any activity requiring elctricity for weeks.
As an example the 395 sewerage pump stations in the Municipality of Cape Town all suffered power failures and these pump stations sumps filled and overflowed into all the nearby storm water drains and river systems, as no backup generators are in place for such an eventuality.

The Raapkraal Road and Military Road pump stations spewed thousands of litres of raw sewerage into the Westlake, Langevlei and Sand Rivers for many hours on 23/02/2006, when the power failures occured. 

photograph by Sue Harwood

The Sand River where hundreds of fish and other water living creatures died on 23/02/2006.

The lack of forward or emergency planning was evident as the City did not have the ability or capacity to get manpower with management plans and methods to prevent this spillage getting into Zandvlei or any of the other water courses. All the effort was reactionary, with lack of equipment and no emergency skilled manpower for such situations.

Zandvlei is a multi user natural resourse in a well developed residential area, with a history going back to the 1600's. Muizenberg has the oldest residential building in South Africa, De Post Huys 1673.

The Zandvlei Estuary was valued by MCM (Marine and Coastal Management) scientists in 2002 as adding RM4 to the annual National Coastal fish resource.
There are 27 indigenous fish species identified and listed in Zandvlei, there are additional exotic species as well. There is a waterweed and a tube worm vital to the water quality of Zandvlei which filters the water of nutrients. It will not be known for some time how these species have been affected.

The first South African Freshwater Regatta was held in 1884 at Zandvlei. The Imperial Yacht Club at Zandvlei celebrates its centenary this year -  2006. The Peninsula Canoe Club with many present and past National and World Champions using the waters to train in daily.
Windsurfers and  Kitesurfers use the waters. The Sea Scouts use the vlei for rowing and sailing training. There are recreational fishermen and many residents living on the waters edge in the Marina da Gama who access the water daily.

There are over 150 species of birds in the Nature Reserve area many water species and waders. The food chain will be seriously disrupted for months. The biodiversity of species could be effected.

photograph by Sue Harwood

Closeup of some of the hundreds of dead fish in the Sand River, suffocated due to the oxygen levels being deplated by the sewerage. The same happened in the Westlake River.

The Municipal elections were held on 1st March 2006 and for months there has been a build up to "voting day". Sub Councils and their working Committees have not been functioning as they should, the out come of the elections depend on them continuing, as the governing political party is still not known. It may take months before the cogs will start turning again.

What has been disconcerting is the silence of the City Managers on the sewerage spillage. There have been no explanations or announced plans put in place to prevent this happening again. Eskom cannot guarentee a continuous supply for the foreseeable future. They admitted they got it wrong with the electricity supply to its customers, the ratepayers who elected these people into office.

We have received the phone number of Mr Williams  phone (021) 703 3070 / 1, based at Schaapkraal on a 24 hour basis. He has a team of people trained to respond to sewerage spillages in the Southern Suburbs. You need to give an accurate description and location (street name and suburb) of the spillage when you report it to him.

Managers, Engineers and other City officals met on 06/03/2006 to formulate emergency management plans for the short term as Eskom can not guarentee uninterupted power services.


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