Municipalities allow wastewater to pollute our environment

22 November 2011

Massive and sustained environmental pollution not a good example (Photo: Bill Harding)

Two years ago I visited this site on the Cape Flats near Cape Town.  This sewer main (image above) was leaking, OK, not so much leaking as gushing,  pretty much then as it still is today – the image above was taken this morning (see YouTube video here).  Not too far away (see image below), the next sewer manhole is completely broken – resulting in a dangerous trap for children or animals to fall into.  

This is two years, probably more, of sustained, highly-polluted, health-risk pollution into an area considered to be rich in wetlands.  What has happened to routine sewer inspections?

Open sewer a death-trap for children (Photo: Bill Harding).

On the same site, about 50 m away and in plain site, a water main has been broken open to provide water to shack dwellers – in an area where the City appears to have been managing illegal dumping by simply pushing sand over it.  Not World Class I fear!

Broken valve on water main providing a continuous and wasteful source of water (Photo: Bill Harding)

Some will ask, why not simply report it to the City?  Well, (a) I believe they know about it [there was a City Council team on the site today] and (b) I have grown tired of reporting stuff like this, and much worse, to the Green Scorpions and not even receiving the courtesy of a reply.  The rules are not applied evenly!

In Winnipeg (Canada), sewage pollution is also a big issue.

Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan is requesting that immediate action be taken to stop the flow of raw sewage from the City of Winnipeg into the Red River.

“For a number of years, the city of Winnipeg has been frequently releasing high levels of raw sewage into the Red River, which in turn contaminates Lake Winnipeg,” he said in a statement. “The Province of Manitoba is famous for blaming nutrient loading and blue green algae blooms on farmers, but the pollution from Winnipeg is a larger and ongoing problem. If this problem persists, Lake Winnipeg will be at risk of eutrophication due to excessive nutrient overloading.

“Where is the justice? Where is the environmental protection? Why does the provincial NDP fail to protect Lake Winnipeg and the Red River? Why does the province look the other way when the City of Winnipeg pollutes our rivers and lakes, but unfairly targets Manitoba’s farmers?” says Bezan.

In Austin, Texas, sewage effluents are a similar problem:

Dozens of lightly monitored wastewater plants west of Austin are degrading the waterways that feed Barton Springs, according to a report commissioned by the Save Our Springs Alliance and San Antonio-based Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance.

The report — which builds on City of Austin data and a 2008 report by the U.S. Geological Survey — concludes that the state has been too lax in monitoring and issuing permits to small utility districts that serve communities such as West Cypress Hills in western Travis County. As a result, the amount of treated wastewater pollutants seeping into the Barton Springs portion of the Edwards Aquifer has increased fourfold since 2003, according to the report.

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