Water solutions should be discussed

Byron Herbert, Camps Bay and Clifton Residents’ and Ratepayer’s Association

In making these statements, Ms Limberg, as a City of Cape Town employee, appears to not have all the facts at her disposal, including surprisingly the results of her own marine biologist who she denied quoted his own findings of high levels of pharmaceutical bioaccumulation in the mussels near the Mouille Point Marine Sewage Outfall Point (MOP).

The group of professors from UWC, UCT and Stellenbosch who have been advising CBCRA, have done an intensive study of chemicals and pharmaceuticals found in Granger Bay, and interestingly enough just published their scientific findings in the November edition of the South African Journal of Science, which supplies undisputed evidence of the chemical and pharmaceutical concerns.

It would therefore be highly unprofessional and morally incorrect for CBCRA, knowing the severity of these public health concerns, not to make the general public aware of the potential health risks associated with desalinating from Granger Bay.

From what we are being told, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) report is a collaboration of the City of Cape Town taking and testing samples, and the CSIR reporting on the results as furnished to them by the City of Cape Town, rather than the CSIR doing the entire process themselves.

This is therefore not only questionable from an independent study perspective, but we are told the report is indeed only a “snapshot” of a much larger problem.

In addition, this report was completed purely for the requirements of a new permit application to discharge sewage into the sea, via the MOP and it therefore it is not nearly sufficient enough to draw conclusions for the long term health risks associated with desalination from this area.

The concern remains that under the banner “Emergency Relief, no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required, and as such in Ms Limberg’s words “there is no acute risk” to consumers (ie Immediate risk eg. food poisoning ).

However, what is not being commented on is the chronic risk (ie long-term risk, eg cancer) associated with bioaccumulation that the folk digesting water containing trace amounts of chemicals and pharmaceuticals would be potentially exposed to.

The elephant in the room that is yet to be understood, is what the additional impact of the highly toxic waste created from desalination known as brine will be.

We are told the brine is going to be pumped back through the same MOP, and thereby create a bizarre cyclical marine environment, of a potentially ever – increasing toxicity, from which water is being drawn for immediate pumping into our drinking water supply network.

Much is being said about this particular concern, and it would be refreshing if the City of Cape Town would agree to engage in an open professional forum to sit around the table to brainstorm problems and find sustainable solutions together.

In the meantime we can be thankful that our media has understood the severity of the concerns, and is sharing it with the public at large.