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Cape Town Sanitation Crisis: Public Hearings on Sea Sewage Discharge Commences

Published September 23, 2023
9 months ago

Following an order from the Environmental Minister, the City of Cape Town has commenced public hearings on the operation of three marine outfalls projected to pump an approximate 28 million litres of untreated sewage into the sea every day. The reports, as extracted from documents commissioned by the City, reveal that the sewage only undergoes a rudimentary process to remove grit and solids before its release approximately 1.5km off the shores at Green Point, Camps Bay, and Hout Bay.

In response to the City's previous oversight in communicating the permission granted for the operation in 2019, Mayco member for water and sanitation, Zahid Badroodien announced the initiation of a 60-day public hearing period. This public discourse aims to delve into the City's proposal to discharge brine at the Green Point outfall in line with a potential desalination plant development.

The delay experienced since the City's application for discharge permits in 2014 was due to legislative transitions of outfall permits from the National Water Act under the Department of Water and Sanitation to the Integrated Coastal Management Act under the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE).

Members of the public and various organisations submitted petitions challenging the permit issuance, prompting DFFE minister Barbara Creecy to state that the City has undermined the public's right to appeal. As a result, Minister Creecy has required that the City rerun the public participation process and extend its hearings to include five coastal sewage treatment plants that release treated effluent into the sea.

This crucial development takes into account the significant environmental and public health impacts of the discharge of sewage into the ocean. As such, residents and the public can voice their objections or comments through the City's have your say platform.

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