Water Awareness Event – Wildevoelvlei

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 30 March 2011

Issued on behalf of: Liesel James: Founder of Little Green Fingers

On 26 March 2011 a Water Awareness Event focusing on a local issue took place at Blue Water Café, Imhoff’s Gift. The community of South Peninsula, City of Cape Town and Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) were invited to discuss the ongoing eutrophication causing toxicity in Wildevoel Vlei and insisting on finding a successful solution.

The blue-green bloom in December 2010. Locals were warned to keep their pets and visitors away from the water.

50 people including local residents, environmental organizations and volunteer groups attended.

The Wildevoelvlei wetlands form an integral part of the wetland systems in the Noordhoek Valley. Originally the vlei was seasonal and dried out over the summer months. Rainfall, groundwater seepage, stormwater run-off and spring tides regulated the water level.

In 1977, the Wildevoelvlei WWTW was commissioned and the vlei became a permanent water body due to the treated effluent being discharged into it.

Wally Peterson founder of Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group (KEAG) who was previously involved in trying to resolve this problem gave a comprehensive history of Wildevoelvlei at the event.

He said, “WWTW was upgraded in 1996, but the development in the valley has way exceeded the expected population growth as predicted in the EIA. This placed WWTW under huge pressure through an increase of treated effluent entering the vlei, and through an increase in quantity and decrease in quality of the nonpoint stormwater run-off discharged into the vlei.” Continue reading

South Peninsula residents to tackle toxic water issue

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 17 March 2011

Issued on behalf of: Liesel James: Founder of Little Green Fingers

Spurred on by rapid urbanisation and climate change, water is set to be the world’s next major resource crisis – an issue World Water Day is drawing attention to on 22 March, 2011.

Blue-Green algae deposits.

With its theme of Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge it hopes to incite governments, businesses, communities and individuals to engage and address this growing issue and is something a group of passionate South Peninsula residents have taken significant heed of.

Motivated by a legacy of water issues that affect the Kommetjie, Ocean View, Capri and Noordhoek communities, the group aims to raise awareness about persistently high toxicity levels in Wildevoelvlei among the public at an event at Blue River Café, Imhoff’s Gift on 26 March.

Liesel James, Little Green Fingers founder and environmental activist says, “The concerns about Wildevoelvlei’s toxicity levels aren’t new. In fact, a warning was issued by the City of Cape Town in December 2010 advising public to stay away from affected areas, including Noordhoek beach.

However, the issue still persists and we want to pin-point its cause as well as discuss sustainable solutions as Wildevoelvlei used to be a pristine estuary but has degraded over the last two decades.”

It is alleged that the culprit is the effluent released from the Wildevoelvlei Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) into Wildevoelvlei – after it has been treated. Continue reading

Wildevoelvlei goes toxic – again

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 December 2010

In 1997 there was a catastrophic poisoning of the Wildevoelvlei, one of the Noordhoek Valley Wetlands. A highly toxic blue-green bloom formed on the surface of the lakes as a result of wastewater overflowing from water treatment works. The treated and untreated water had a high concentration of phosphates – a major component of washing powder. SANParks eventually turned the lake anoxic, thereby killing an entire generation of organisms.
Related articles:
Too much water going to waste – expert and
Commercial washing powders destroy wetland

The City of Cape Town asked the public on Wednesday [15 Dec 2010] to avoid the Wildevoelvlei in Noordhoek Valley because of a toxic blue-green algae.

blue green algae or cyanobacteria

“Wildevoelvlei has a well-established algal population, dominated by species of blue-green algae (Cyanophyceae),” the city said.

“This algal group has the ability, under certain conditions, to produce toxins which can be harmful to humans and animals if ingested.”

It said people were advised to avoid contact with the water in the outlet channel leading to the sea.

Exposure to the algae could cause eye irritation, skin rashes, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhoea, and cold or flu-like symptoms.

It had been established that the vlei had an outbreak which affected water flowing downstream and discharging on a section of Noordhoek Beach.

The city said dog-walkers should ensure that their pets remain on their leashes so that they were not able to drink the water.

Harvesting, sale and consumption of shellfish from the rocky outcrops near the outlet to the sea – Klein Slangkop on Noordhoek Beach – was also not advised.

Shellfish such as mussels harvested from this area were likely to be unfit for human consumption as a result of the toxins, it said.

Any person that came into direct contact with the blue-green algae, had to wash themselves immediately with clean water. If any symptoms were present, they had to immediately seek medical advice.

The city’s environmental health officials were in the process of erecting additional signs at various locations to warn the public of the situation.

It said it would continue to monitor the water quality and keep the public informed.

–  Sapa

Phosphate in Washing Powder destroy Water Eco Systems

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 July 2010

Phosphate is a nutrient that is essential for plant growth and is found naturally in the environment. But the excess use of phosphates by humans is overloading our water bodies, which can lead to toxic algal blooms.

We should be concerned….

Commercial washing powders destroy wetland

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 March 2010

The recommendation in a report addressed to the ‘Catchment Management section of the Cape Metropolitan Council’ into the catastrophic poisoning of a wetland in 1999 was never actioned. Are we to see a repeat of this past devastation?

In 1997 there was a catastrophic poisoning of the Wildevoelvlei, one of the Noordhoek Valley Wetlands. A highly toxic blue-green bloom formed on the surface of the lakes as a result of wastewater overflowing from water treatment works. The treated and untreated water had a high concentration of phosphates – a major component of washing powder. SANParks eventually turned the lake anoxic, thereby killing an entire generation of organisms.

Algal bloom

Whatever happened to the recommendations contained in a report 2 years later entitled “The Ecological status of the Wetlands of the Noordhoek Valley”, written by Bryan Davies and Anja Gassner?

According to the report South Africans wastefully use expensive potable water, “necessitating the construction of large complex and very expensive water supply schemes”. Supply schemes that have a “profound ecological and social cost of which the public is lamentably unaware”.

The cause of the pollution problems experienced for the vleis of the Noordhoek Valley is put down to the volume of phosphates contained in commercial washing powders.

The solution and recommendation in the report was for the reuse of Grey Water for irrigation purposes by all households and commercial enterprises. By reusing grey water the volume of phosphates reaching the sewage treatment works would be halved, and the necessity for further expensive water augmentation schemes would be avoided.

At what cost has this report’s recommendation been ignored?

Read the report extract: The Ecological status of the Wetlands of the Noordhoek Valley
Related articles: Too much water going to waste – expert
City warns residents not to swim in Westlake River