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City needs your help to curb water pollution

Used oil disposal

The City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation Department is appealing to residents and organisations to help it combat water pollution.

It has found that many of the city’s natural watercourses and stormwater channels are awash with traces of pollutants - from solid waste to liquids - that are environmentally harmful, and also affect popular recreational activities, such as fishing and bird watching.

These pollutants are on the increase, and the department says many of the polluters appear to be unaware of how their practises are contributing to the destruction of the natural environment.

Substances such as motor vehicle oils, detergents and household chemicals, cigarette butts, litter and building rubble are being tossed onto roads and paths, which then land up in the stormwater network, and work their way into streams and eventually, the sea.

Water pollution also originates in industrial premises, where onsite process control, storage, handling and other activities cause pollutants to flow into the stormwater system when it rains.

The City’s sewerage system is also affected by illegal discharges, as these negatively impact on the biological wastewater treatment processes, which reduces the quality of the final effluent discharge into streams and wetlands, placing them under constant threat.

The Water and Sanitation Department consults with various parties to try and reduce water pollution, and has had many successful interventions. But it also encounters resistance from property owners or business owners who deny them access to their premises, even though this is illegal in terms of the by-law that safeguards Cape Town’s stormwater and sewerage systems. The department would like to request co-operation with its Water Pollution Control Inspectorate from all parties concerned in order to maintain good relations and a healthy environment.

The department takes its mandate to combat water pollution seriously, and asks anyone who has concerns about water pollution to contact the Water and Sanitation Technical Operations Centre on 0860 103 054, by using the SMS line 31373, or by e-mail


Martin Pollack
© City of Cape Town, 2016