Dangerous bacteria breeding in Cape Town river

City of Cape Town officials have tracked dangerously high levels of E coli bacteria and other serious pollutants in the city’s Black River, said a citizen action group called What on Earth Is Happening (WOE) on Saturday.

Group coordinator Leila Beltramo said the pollution—reportedly caused by the Athlone sewage works—poses a significant health hazard to residential areas through which the river passes. These include informal settlements where some residents swim in the water or use it for cooking and cleaning.

“The pollution also threatens to eliminate at least four endangered species that rely on the river,” said Beltramo.

She said environmental and water specialists as well as the department of water affairs will meet this week in Cape Town to discuss the dangerously high levels of pollution in river.

The WOE group was formed in July this year by a group of residents who were concerned about their environment.

Pressure intensified on the council after WOE began lobbying the council and the department to look after the river.
Beltramo said there are plans to clean up a section of the river on December 8.

“We will lead a massive campaign backed by the municipality, celebrities [and] other environmental and corporate partners to clean up the Black River in one of its most polluted stretches, close to where the N2 connects with the M5,” she said.

Beltramo also said that there needs to be an assessment of why the Athlone sewage works allow waste into the river.—Sapa

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