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Sewage pumped into Cape Town ocean negatively impacting marine life – expert

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Environmental and chemical expert, Professor Leslie Petrik says sewage being pumped into the ocean around the Cape Peninsula is making a huge negative impact on marine life.

The City of Cape Town submitted a public participation report on marine outfalls permits to the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE).

This follows ongoing public outcry about the city’s outfalls, particularly in Hout Bay for releasing more sewage than its permit allows.

Petrik, who leads the Environmental and Nano Sciences group in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape said marine organisms along the Cape coast are being exposed to a number of chemicals and metals.

“The impact zones are much larger than what the city tells the minister. They claim that the impact zone is about 300 metres from the outfall whereas we’re finding these chemicals up to thirty kilometres away from the outfalls.”

The city said it has been exploring new sewage treatment measures at its three marine outfalls in Camps Bay, Green Point and Hout Bay.


The city is still waiting on the DFFE to decide whether the municipality’s permit to pump sewage into the ocean will be renewed.

It recently submitted a public participation report to the department, which will now assess the public’s appeals and then decide whether the permit should be granted.

Mayco member for Water and Sanitation, Zahid Badroodien, said the city received close to 2,000 comments in the public participation report.

Badroodien said some of the concerns raised by the public included the impact on the environment and tourism.

“They focused predominantly around environmental protection, but then also linked to the impact on tourism, then also the health of residents and businesses who may swim in that particular area.”

Badroodien said the city was exploring new short-term and long-term sewage treatment measures, but these will prove costly, and that it could be some time before the new technology was introduced.

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