Three Anchor Bay has a pollution problem, according to the City’s latest coastal water quality report.
The bay rated “poor” for the fifth year in a row, according to the “Know Your Coast” report.
Other popular beaches ranking in the “poor” category include Park Road in Green Point, Saunders Rocks tidal pool, Bakoven bungalows north-west rocks and Bakoven Beach, which had fluctuating results regressing to the “poor” category, which the report attributes to the Beta Road pump station that has failed multiple times during 2021.
Clifton 4th and Camp’s Bay, two of Cape Town’s Blue Flag beaches, were, however, ranked “good” and “excellent”.
The latest report covers coastal water quality from December 1, 2020 to November 30, 2021. It reflects the outcome of statistical analysis of 2 400 bacterial sample tests taken from 99 sites on the Atlantic and False Bay coastlines, twice a month in the surf zone and in tidal swimming pools, along a stretch of 307km coastline from Silwerboomstrand on the Atlantic to Kogel Bay on the east side of False Bay.
The samples are analysed by the City’s scientific services unit and categorised as “excellent”, “good”, “sufficient”, or “poor”, based on a 365-day rolling period.
For most healthy people, water quality that meets acceptable standards, “sufficient” or above, will pose little risk to their health, said the report.
Coastal water quality is assessed by comparing the number of E coli and enterococci bacteria in the water samples to limits set out in the South African Water Quality Guidelines for Coastal Marine Waters. The bacteria serve as indicators of faecal pollution and the potential presence of pathogenic micro-organisms.
The ratings are based on the estimated risk of gastrointestinal illness per exposure to swimming for 10 minutes with three head immersions. Less than 2.9% is “excellent”, less than 5% is “good”, less than 8.5% is “sufficient” and more than 8.5% is “poor”. Enterococci under 100 cfu/100 ml is “excellent”, under 200 is “good”, under 185 is “sufficient” and “poor”. E coli under 250 is “excellent”, and under 500 is “good”, “sufficient” and “poor”.
There were additional sampling points at Three Anchor Bay west, which consistently yielded “excellent” results, with Glen Beach water quality rated as “sufficient”, according to the report.
At Rocklands Beach, the water quality went from “sufficient” in 2020 to “excellent” in 2021, and Camp’s Bay north was also rated “excellent”.
All tidal pools at Milton Beach, Maiden’s Cove and Camp’s Bay rated “sufficient”.
According to mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews, this is the third “Know Your Coast” report issued by the City.
The report included the sampling results of the previous five years, from 2017 to 2021, which was pivotal in understanding the longer term trends in coastal water quality for Cape Town’s beaches, he said.
Apart from the annual “Know Your Coast” report, the City also publishes bi-weekly data updates on its website.
Mr Andrews said that between July 2019 and June 2021, the City had spent R350 million on upgrading and rehabilitating the sewerage network, including R1.2 million on sewer cleaning at Axminster Road and Clifton Road.
Caroline Marx, from the Milnerton Ratepayers’ Association, said: “We are still waiting for the Urban Run-Off and Inland Water Bodies reports. These provide information on the stormwater culverts leading to our beaches. They alert us to sewage overflows, such as sewage pump stations failing to restart after load shedding events and their alarm systems failing.”
Mr Andrews said the City needs partnerships with residents. “And for residents to refrain from littering, illegal dumping in our sewers and stormwater mains, and to not dispose of grey water or any other substances in the stormwater mains. Everything that is dumped in our rivers, canals, stormwater mains and streams, from household bin washing, pet waste, household cleaning agents, fats, oils and grease eventually finds its way into the sea,” he said.