The Greater Table View Action Forum has been warning the City for years over the dire state of the water quality.
David Ayres, who heads up the planning and biodiversity portfolio at the forum, said; “We have been sending requests for the City to rehabilitate the nature reserve. There are warnings the water quality does not meet recreational requirements.”
Among some of the concerns residents have are sewage spills, ageing infrastructure, rampant development and growing numbers of backyard dwellers.
“The City is duty-bound to protect our reserve. It’s one of our most popular attractions. The contamination poses a risk to the livestock and to our biodiversity,” he said.
The reserve, which is managed by the City, has about 880ha of land comprising a variety of permanent and seasonal wetlands, and is surrounded by Cape Flats dune Strandveld and Cape Flats sand fynbos vegetation.
A recent letter sent by the City’s environment and health department stated: “The Milnerton lagoon’s water quality has been consistently low and while the recommended levels for recreational use are highly variable in general, the water quality trends indicate that the lagoon is not fit for recreational use.”
Most recently in a report by the City’s water and waste directorate, it showed water samples taken from the water at the nature reserve that show the Diep River estuary at Woodbridge Island is contaminated with over 99000ml of e.coli.
Milnerton Canoe Club chairperson Richard Allen said: “The pollution enters the stormwater drains from the streets near informal settlements.
He said his club members’ health was at risk.
“This an urgent health hazard situation that needs immediate attention. You have contamination results off the chart where they have to use prefixes to account for the amount of zeros to describe the readings.
"It is known that there has been raw sewage entering the lagoon for many years and as the informal population booms, it is just getting worse.
"The City hides behind a letter sent to our club stating that we paddle at our own risk and they put up signs at points of the lagoon warning the public,” he said.
The City has identified Montague Gardens, Dunoon, Doornbach and Phoenix as major contributors to the pollution of the lagoons, and has developed preliminary plans to intercept and divert water from the two main canals serving these areas.
Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said: “The vast majority of sewer overflows are caused by misuse of the system, rather than capacity constraints.
"The City believes we can get more significant improvement at lower cost by driving awareness of the consequences of dumping inappropriate materials into the sewer system, and the proper means of disposing items.
“Illegal land invasions will often result in the pollution of water bodies until municipal services such as sewers and toilets can be provided.”