City of Cape Town releases latest report on coastal water quality  

Rather don’t swim near a stormwater outlet. That’s some sage advice from the City’s Coastal Water Quality report based on 10 000 sample bacterial tests collected at 90 sites along 307km of coast between Silwerstrand on the Atlantic coast and Kogel Bay on the eastern shore of False Bay.

Sample analysis revealed both depressing and encouraging results. The good news is that overall there has been no overall decrease in coastal water quality over the past year, with improvements in some areas offset by water quality regression in other areas, notably the Camps Bay tidal pool. The bad news is there remain some ‘poor’ areas despite ongoing efforts to curb pollution.

‘Importantly, overall, the trend and pattern remains constant where stormwater outlets and river mouths remain significant sources of pollution,” concluded the City’s Mayco member for Spatial Planning and Environment Marian Nieuwoudt. “This confirms, once again, that sewer blockages and overflows, illegal discharges, and general urban run-off and waste disposal discharged via the city’s stormwater system and rivers have a significant impact on our coastal environment and coastal water quality.”

“The City is doing all it can to improve coastal water quality through various interventions. However, we cannot do it on our own. We need residents to assist by taking responsibility for their waste. The quality of Cape Town’s coastal water concerns all of us, and we have to work together to prevent pollution,” Nieuwoudt said.

Here are the report’s key findings, as they appeared in the City’s report:

Atlantic coastline:

  • In 2020 the water quality at 19 out of the 24 recreational beaches and tidal pools met the minimum requirement for recreational activities such as swimming, surfing, etc.
  • When compared with 2019, the water quality at seven locations improved in 2020: at Small Bay, Llandudno Beach, Scarborough beach, Beta beach, Maiden’s Cove (both tidal pools); and Camps Bay beach.
  • The water quality at three beaches regressed into the ‘poor category’, among which Camps Bay tidal pool, Bakoven bungalows, and Hout Bay beach.
  • When the data is analysed over the last five years (2016 to 2020) it shows that there has been a marginal water quality improvement at seven recreational nodes, especially at beaches along the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula, among which Maiden’s Cove, Camps Bay, Beta Beach, Llandudno, and at Small Bay along the northern Atlantic coast.

False Bay coastline:

  • In 2020, the water quality at 15 of the 27 recreational beaches and tidal pools met the minimum requirement.
  • When compared with 2019, the water quality improved at six locations: Frank’s Bay, Simon’s Town Long Beach, St James tidal pool, Muizenberg Station, Strandfontein tidal pool, and Gordon’s Bay.
  • At four locations, water quality regressed into the ‘poor’ category: Boulders Beach, Clovelly, Mnandi Beach west and Mnandi Beach east.
  • When data is analysed over the last five years (2016 to 2020) water quality has shown gradual improvement at eight locations along the False Bay coast: Frank’s Bay, Simon’s Town Long Beach, Glencairn Beach, Muizenberg Station, Strandfontein, Strandfontein tidal pool, Monwabisi tidal pool and Gordon’s Bay.

Lastly, the following areas reported chronic coastal water quality problems in 2019, and remained as such in 2020:

–       Lagoon Beach

–       Three Anchor Bay

–       Central False Bay; and

–       Macassar to Gordon’s Bay

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