09 February 2024

Sewage Problems at Milnerton Lagoon, Woodbridge Island

Pollution / Sewage / Stench Situation at Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island 2024

Latest Updates of Media Coverage on the Current Water / Sewage Problems in Milnerton

Poor / Sub-Standard Wastewater Management : City of Cape Town 2021 - 2024

Current Pollution / Sewage / Stench situation at Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island
Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island : Copyright Vernon Chalmers

It is still very disappointing to report here on my Vernon Chalmers Photography website that I am as alarmed with the ongoing wastewater pollution, sewage and stench situation around the Milnerton Lagoon / Diep River / Woodbridge Island residential / natural ecosystem environment as everybody else around here (and further afield). 

Decreasing Bird Species: Diep River, Minerton Lagoon and Woodbridge Island
As an avid local bird photographer that lives near the Diep River, Milnerton I started observing less and less active bird species between the (then) old wooden bridge at Woodbridge Island - and as far as the daily / weekly hikes went - the Table Bay Nature Reserve, Woodbridge Island (opposite Milnerton High). A definite shift in bird behaviour occurred since 2017 where up to an daily average of 35 - to 40 species could be easily observed on any 'good light' photography morning. Since then the average daily species decreased on some days to less than 70 - 80% of the 2016 / 1017 daily statistics. I even encounter one morning (during 2022) with so little bird activity that I used my mobile phone out of boredom to capture an image of Table Mountain (over the Diep River) - from my usual location where I have photographed an abundance of bird species since 2013. Something I have never done before while out birding.

Please Note: Above Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island image is for geographical location purpose only. This Milnerton Lagoon, Woodbridge Island image was photographed quite a few years ago. 

Declining Bird Life around the Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island
As a resident of Milnerton and an avid local bird photographer I have person ally witnessed the consistent deterioration of active bird species above and on / in the Diep River - which runs into the Milnerton Lagoon (opposite Woodbridge Island), Cape Town.

A sunny morning with no birds along the Diep River / Woodbridge Island >>

I have seen the deteriorating bird life to such an extend that no birds are perched or in-flight for relatively long time periods (20 to 30 minutes) anywhere along the lagoon or river. Generally here are between 20 to 40 different species continuously active on any given sunny morning. Those days are long gone... 

"The Milnerton Lagoon is perhaps Cape Town's most polluted waterways with multiple fish die-offs, sewage spills, a persisting stench in the area and health risks affecting residents as a result of the ongoing pollution of the Diep River and lagoon." Daily Maverick

Water / Sewage Management Progress Milnerton Lagoon
Pied kingfisher fishing in the Diep River Milnerton : Copyright Vernon Chalmers

The pied kingfisher above was photographed a few years ago when the water (and marine life) of the Diep River / Woodbridge Island was still part of a clean and healthy natural ecosystem. 

Current Pollution / Sewage / Stench Situation, Milnerton
During some of my walks from the Woodbridge Island bridges along the Diep River towards the Table Bay Nature Reserve entrance (opposite Milnerton High) and deeper into the reserve I sometimes see less than 10 birds (+- 10 minute hike). I've witnessed this deterioration since early 2020.

Poor Water / Sewage Management Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island
Poor Water / Sewage Management Table Bay Nature Reserve Copyright Vernon Chalmers

Sewage Pollution and Stench in (from) the Diep River, Milnerton
I reside in Arnhem which is directly opposite the Milnerton Lagoon / Diep River and am just as concerned as all other Milnerton residents / associated stakeholders with regard to the poor wastewater / sewage management of this ongoing (and stinking) problem.

© Vernon Chalmers

Rethink the Stink Website : Responsible Management of Wastewater
Safe, clean water is a basic human right enshrined in our constitution. Taking care of our water resources is a shared responsibility.Visit https://rethinkthestink.co.za

# ReThinkTheStink Facebook Group
Join / Visit the # ReThinkTheStink Facebook Group to learn more about this ongoing pollution and sewage problem in the Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island.

OUTA Project: Cape Town Pollution - Milnerton / Joe Slovo (2020 - 2022)
Residents have been pleading with the City of Cape Town to address the unacceptable pollution of the Milnerton Lagoon and surrounding areas. Their appeals for urgent assistance have not resulted in a solution. (Source OUTA). Read more >>

Water Stories Cape Town Waste Water >>

Little Egret flying over Clean Water, Diep River Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Little Egret flying over Clean Water, Diep River Woodbridge Island, Cape Town (2018)

Updated Article / Media Links of the current Milnerton Sewage / Pollution / Stench Situation

2024 Sewage / Pollution Situation : Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island

Cape Town’s ocean-bound sewage options unveiled GroundUp

Milnerton fumed with ‘toxic’ air after the collapse of Racecourse Pump Station’s rising main TygerBurger

2023 Sewage / Pollution Situation : Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island

Occurrence and Ecotoxicological Effects of Microplastics in the Diep River, Milnerton, Cape Town - Asmat Begum Khan Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree: Master of Environmental Management Cape Peninsula University of Technology PDF Download CPUT

Stench at Milnerton Lagoon returns ‘due to old pipelines’ TygerBurger

It’s Code Red on the Water Quality of Beaches around Cape Town ahead of peak holiday season Daily Maverick

Full Blue and no Drop PDF Report Western Cape Government of South Africa

Six-month aeration trial commences at Diep River and Milnerton Lagoon to combat pollution IOL

'Stench returns' As posted by Caroline Marx # ReThinkTheStink Facebook Group

Chronic Water Pollution at Lagoon Beach, Milnerton Woodbridge Island Tabletalk

FNB Beach Clean-up Initiative takes to KZN and WC beaches Two Oceans Aquarium

Construction starts on Phase 2 of City of Cape Town’s Milnerton bulk sewer upgrade project Engineering News

Activists applaud Milnerton Bulk Sewer upgrade TygerBurger

Construction begins to upgrade Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works TygerBurger

Potsdam wastewater works upgrade breaks ground Engineering News

Milnerton Lagoon Update: Cape Town takes bold steps toward restoration Politely

City of Cape Town finally launches project to restore heavily polluted Milnerton Lagoon environment Daily Maverick

Glorious morning along the Diep River, Woodbridge Island Vernon Chalmers Photography

Beaches cleaned: Cross-country campaign to end soon TygerBurger

Coast to Coast beach clean-up kicks off in Milnerton TygerBurger

R1,2bn for Upgrades: City of Cape Town’s budget caters for better beach facilities and vleis TygerBurger

Restoring the ecological health of Cape Town’s waterways – one vlei at a time (Potsdam WWTW). Urban Water Management The Water Wheel PDF Download

Lack of clean-up crews cited for increased piles of waste washing ashore popular Cape Town beaches TygerBurger

Piles of waste wash out on Cape beaches after recent rains IOL

Astron spill causes havoc: Birds and other wildlife affected (towards Woodbridge Island) News 24

Lagoon progress ‘slow’: City of Cape Town engage with public at stakeholders meeting News24 >>

Residents raise alarm on health risks of Milnerton environment IOL >>

City Of Cape Town Accused Of Reporting False Pollution Levels at Milnerton Lagoon EWN

Milnerton Lagoon Update: Steady progress on Potsdam underway DA Western Cape

Milnerton / Table View : Path cleared for sewage plant upgrade Tabletalk

Milnerton Lagoon stench: City makes progress as tender appeals dismissed News24

Milnerton Lagoon still closed as more tests detect high levels of e.Coli News24

Restoring wetlands critical for biodiversity and sustainable development News24

Cape Town’s beaches are dirtier than they seem GroundUp

City of Cape Town lambasted for load shedding blame game IOL

2022 Sewage / Pollution Situation : Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island

Festive bathers poo-poo Cape Town's Lagoon Beach sewage warnings News24

Understanding the social in a social-ecological system: A perceptions study on the Diep River estuary, Cape Town - Carly Wise. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree: Master of Philosophy in Environment, Society and Sustainability Faculty of Science University of Cape Town PDF Download Open UCT

Milnerton Lagoon Update: Provincial Directives to City on Milnerton Lagoon turning the tide against pollution Democratic Alliance

City of Cape Town warns of further sewage spills due to lengthy power cuts MG

Drinking water boost in pipeline R2,3 billion investment to prioritise water security CoCI

Cape Town - The situation at the Milnerton Lagoon has worsened again. IOL

City outlines plans to restore Milnerton Lagoon Tabletalk

Interventions to help tackle pollution at Milnerton Lagoon Smile FM

Remedial work at Potsdam ‘ongoing’ as interventions aim to address lagoon's stench News24

Milnerton Lagoon stench: City plans R5bn Upgrade To Wastewater Treatment Plant News24

DA calls on residents to send submissions for Milnerton Lagoon Remediation plan IOL

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says restoring health of Milnerton Lagoon is not optional IOL

People living around Milnerton Lagoon bemoan slow action to clean up sewage MG

Milnerton / Woodbridge Island residents still waiting for foul wastewater stench solution IOL

Rethinking the stink: Strategies suggested to fix ‘disaster’ at Milnerton Lagoon News24

Sewage pollution blamed for fish die-off at the Milnerton Lagoon Cape Town Etc

Fish die-off in polluted Milnerton lagoon GroundUp

Stink over Milnerton Lagoon funding IOL

City of Cape Town lambasted over Milnerton Lagoon stink and ecosystem collapse IOL

Draft estuary plan, a step in the right direction for Milnerton Lagoon pollution DA

Rising Milnerton stench is hitting residents hard News24

The big stink about Milnerton Lagoon CapeTalk

Smell from Potsdam leaves residents gasping Online Tenders

Milnerton residents ‘sick’ of lagoon stench IOL

Milnerton Lagoon suffers yet another sewage spill IOL

Frequent discharge of 'poorly treated effluent' into Milnerton Lagoon, Diep River a concern IOL 

Locals suspect fish-die off linked to Milnerton Lagoon's 'highly polluted water' CapeTalk

Dead fish investigated (Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island) TygerBurger

Sewage spills blamed for fish die-off at Milnerton Lagoon Daily Maverick

City of Cape Town probes cause of fish die-off in Milnerton Lagoon News24 

Drought, Water Management, and Social Equity: Analysing Cape Town, South Africa's Water Crisis Frontiers

The impact of informal settlement on water quality of Diep River in Dunoon Springer Link 

2021 (and earlier) Sewage / Pollution Situation : Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island

Toxic sewage spill causes a stink at Milnerton lagoon / Woodbridge Island IOL

Call for urgent investigation into Milnerton Lagoon 'sewage spill' IOL

City of Cape Town falling short of directive to clean up Milnerton Lagoon Ground Up

Polluted Milnerton lagoon “particularly disgusting” Ground Up

Enough is enough on Milnerton pollution OUTA

Contaminated Joe Slovo stormwater continues to pour into Milnerton Lagoon CapeTalk

OUTA: ‘City is responsible for sewage polluting Milnerton lagoon’ Infrastructure News

City of Cape Town pollutes its own nature reserve, monthly water tests reveal News24

We won't take this sh!t anymore, says Milnerton Magster 

Green Scorpions order City of Cape Town to sort out pollution in Milnerton Lagoon CBN

‘Clean the Lagoon now’ Milnerton Central Residents Association (MCRA) Network24

Milnerton Lagoon | Recent Fish die-off being investigated ( 9 March 2022) : Video

Milnerton Lagoon | Recent fish die-off being investigated (March 2022)
Residents of Milnerton are kicking up a stink because of six long years of sewage problems. Just recently over 500 dead fish washed ashore at the lagoon. Issues with a nearby sewage plant, pump failures and a polluted stormwater system have all contributed to the lagoon being closed for use. The City of Cape Town says it's investigating the matter. Nobesuthu Hejana reports.

Video Source: ENCA YouTube Channel

Water Resources Management Plan in the Diep River Catchment: A Situation Assessment (2002)

"This document gives a description of situation assessment on water resource quality of the Diep River Catchment. The study originated from a request by the Regional Office, Western Cape of Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), to the Institute of Water Quality Studies (IWQS) in 1997.

The main objective of this report is to provide a situational assessment of the water quality, quantity and the aquatic ecosystem health of the surface, ground and coastal waters of the Diep River Catchment. This study is aimed not only at the Western Cape regional office, but it can be used for a wide readership by the catchment management agencies in the area, interested parties (e.g. salinasation issues in the Western Cape) and decision makers, as an input into catchment management plan for example."

Report PDF Source: Water Resources Management Plan in the Diep River Catchment: A Situation Assessment : N/G210/REQ/1200

Effect of Pollution on Bird Species

"Pollution can have profound and often detrimental effects on bird species and their habitats. Here are some specific ways pollution can impact birds:

Direct Toxicity
Birds may ingest or absorb pollutants directly from contaminated food, water, or air. Substances like heavy metals, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and oil can poison birds, leading to sickness, reproductive failure, or death.

Some pollutants accumulate in the environment and food chain, becoming more concentrated as they move up the food chain. Birds may consume contaminated prey or plants, leading to the accumulation of toxins in their bodies over time. This can lead to chronic health problems and reproductive issues.

Habitat Degradation
Pollution can degrade habitats critical for birds' survival, such as wetlands, forests, and coastal areas. For example, water pollution from agricultural runoff or industrial discharge can contaminate wetland ecosystems, reducing food availability and nesting sites for waterfowl and shorebirds.

Reproductive Impacts
Certain pollutants can interfere with birds' reproductive success. For instance, pesticides like DDT have been linked to thinning eggshells in birds like eagles and falcons, leading to decreased hatching success and population declines.

Disruption of Migration
Pollution can disrupt birds' migratory routes and stopover sites. Light pollution from urban areas can disorient migratory birds, causing them to collide with buildings or become exhausted. Chemical pollutants can also affect birds' navigational abilities or reduce the availability of suitable stopover habitats.

Altered Food Web Dynamics
Pollution can disrupt food webs, affecting the availability of prey species for birds. For example, pesticides can reduce insect populations, which are important food sources for many bird species, leading to declines in bird populations that rely on insects for food.

Oil Spills
Oil spills pose a significant threat to seabirds, coating their feathers and impairing their ability to fly, regulate body temperature, and find food. Oil contamination can also lead to poisoning if birds ingest oil while preening.

These impacts can result in population declines, habitat loss, and ecosystem disruption, ultimately threatening the survival of bird species. Efforts to mitigate pollution and its effects on birds include regulatory measures, habitat restoration, pollution cleanup efforts, and public education campaigns to promote environmental stewardship." (Source: ChatGPT 2024)

Recommendations for Effective Wastewater Management

"Effective wastewater management is crucial for environmental protection and public health. Here are some recommendations for implementing an efficient wastewater management system:

Regular Monitoring and Testing:
  • Implement a comprehensive monitoring program to regularly test the quality of wastewater.
  • Monitor key parameters such as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), pH, and suspended solids.

Public Awareness and Education:
  • Educate the public about the importance of proper wastewater disposal and the impact of pollutants on water bodies.
  • Encourage responsible water usage and promote water conservation practices.

Strict Regulatory Compliance:
  • Develop and enforce stringent regulations for industrial and municipal wastewater discharges.
  • Regularly audit and inspect facilities to ensure compliance with environmental standards.

Invest in Treatment Infrastructure:
  • Upgrade and invest in advanced wastewater treatment plants with the capacity to handle the volume and types of pollutants in the wastewater.
  • Explore innovative and sustainable treatment technologies.

Reuse and Recycling:
  • Implement water reuse and recycling programs to reduce the demand on freshwater sources.
  • Encourage industries to adopt closed-loop systems to minimize water consumption.

Green Infrastructure:
  • Integrate green infrastructure solutions, such as constructed wetlands and vegetated swales, to naturally treat and filter wastewater before it reaches water bodies.

Stormwater Management:
  • Develop effective stormwater management strategies to prevent contaminants from entering water bodies during heavy rainfall.
  • Implement best practices for urban planning to reduce impervious surfaces.

Community Engagement:
  • Involve local communities in the decision-making process related to wastewater management.
  • Establish community-based initiatives for the maintenance and protection of water resources.

Research and Innovation:
  • Invest in research and development to discover new technologies and methods for wastewater treatment.
  • Stay updated on advancements in the field and be open to adopting innovative solutions.

Emergency Response Planning:
  • Develop emergency response plans to address accidental spills or contamination events promptly.
  • Conduct regular training and drills to ensure a swift and effective response in case of emergencies.

International Cooperation:
  • Collaborate with neighboring regions and countries on cross-border water management issues.
  • Share best practices and coordinate efforts to address shared water resources.

Financial Incentives and Penalties:
  • Implement a system of financial incentives for industries that adopt environmentally friendly wastewater management practices.
  • Enforce penalties for non-compliance to deter irresponsible disposal practices.

By combining these recommendations, communities and industries can work towards sustainable wastewater management, ensuring the protection of water resources and the overall well-being of ecosystems and human populations." (Source ChatGPT 2024)

Poor Water / Sewage Management into the Milnerton Lagoon Woodbridge Island
Poor Water / Sewage Management into the Diep River Copyright Vernon Chalmers

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