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Water polluters fined

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 15 December 2010

The City of Cape Town recently issued 15 Water Pollution Control Inspectors in the Water and Sanitation Department with Peace Officer status, which gives them the authority to issue spot fines to water polluters.

City takes steps to protect its rivers from industrial and household waste

The team’s main responsibility is the protection of the City’s water reticulation systems (sewers and stormwater drainage) and receiving bodies (such as rivers and streams) from pollution that stems from industry and household waste. The team will work to ensure that the environment is protected and not negatively impacted as a result of by-law infringement.

The officers are working in the field, actively monitoring and enforcing compliance with the three relevant City by-laws, namely the Wastewater and Industrial Effluent By-law, the Stormwater By-law and the Treated Effluent By-law.

The City has completely revised the previous system of control, which was limited to contravention notices. By enhancing the powers of the existing officers, the City is introducing a zero-tolerance approach. The officers have power of access into all premises suspected to have discharged dangerous substances into the sewer or stormwater system.

According to Section 56 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, officers are authorised to issue spot fines of a minimum of R1 000.00 whenever a by-law is infringed, with the possibility of additional fines where damage has been caused. The charge for illegal disposal of metals and substances with a low pH-value has been increased tenfold, because these have the most detrimental impact on the municipal infrastructure and the environment. Failure to comply with the Wastewater and Industrial Effluent By-law will also result in one or more of the following: disconnection from the municipal system, withdrawal of the permit, and the institution of appropriate legal action.

The City recently disconnected a company in Bellville from the municipal system because they were discharging extremely high levels of metals into the sewer system. The company has been billed about R1,5 million in the month of September for the extra treatment cost of an effluent of such toxic and detriment to the infrastructure, the process and the broader environment.

The Peace Officers conducted another blitz operation in Montague and Killarney Gardens, Athlone, Diep River and Retreat. They will continue with blitz operations across the city on an ongoing basis.

The City of Cape Town appeals to industries and members of the public to support the Peace Officers in sustaining the unique biodiversity of the Cape, especially the aquatic life in our rivers and streams. In the past, the City has dedicated significant resources to rectifying the damage caused by non-compliance. These funds could be better spent on other areas of service delivery.

Disposal of foreign objects or substances that are toxic or flammable serves to damage infrastructure and renders the City’s wastewater treatment plants ineffective. This type of action also exposes City employees and members of the public to serious health risk and contributes to environmental degradation.

Industry bodies and businesses are reminded that a permit is required by law for anyone discharging industrial effluent from their business into the municipal sewer system.

Source: City of Cape Town

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