Raw effluent running into river and sea

Chlorine shortage hinders proper treatment after tender bungle

Untreated effluent has been flowing into the Swartkops River and the sea at Brighton Beach due to a shortage of chlorine following a municipal bungle with a chemical order.

This was revealed in a report tabled by wastewater treatment director Anderson Mancotywa on Friday at an infrastructure, engineering and energy committee meeting.

An acceptable treatment percentage of discharged effluent into rivers and the sea to attain a green drop certificate should be more than 80%, according to the report. But the effluent quality discharged into the Swartskops River and the sea at Brighton Beach recorded 61% and 58% respectively.

The Fishwater Flats water treatment works pumps the effluent into the sea at Brighton Beach while the Kelvin Jones water treatment works pumps into the Swartkops River. The report does not state when the chlorine ran out but it lists high effluent readings for January and last month.

Mancotywa told councillors a tender to supply the city with chemicals had expired and was not renewed.

“We had a tender for the supply of chemicals but it expired and we could not buy chlorine for disinfection. We have now been given the go-ahead to buy chemicals.”

Mancotywa said normally when his department ran out of chlorine they would ask the drinking water division to help.

Mayoral committee infrastructure and engineering member Annette Lovemore said she was shocked the tender had expired and was not renewed for such a crucial service.

“It is incredible that this happened in this municipality. The results of the effluent are shocking,” she said.

ANC councillor Rory Riordan called on city manager Johann Mettler to intervene.

“A municipality of this size can’t [function without] chlorine. That is absolutely unacceptable. There must be consequences for this situation,” he said.

Mancotywa said specialists were busy testing the water and the results would be available next week.

“When we took the sample the E coli levels were very high because we had no chlorine,” he said.

Water and sanitation director Barry Martin said beach officials tested the quality of water constantly.

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