A new report shows that Cape Town’s rivers, vleis and estuaries have been getting worse for 40 years, with the exception of a few years.
The Inland Water Quality Report summary, released on 9 February, revealed worsening pollution except for a slight improvement between 2010 and 2015.
The latest data from 242 testing sites shows that many of Cape Town’s rivers, vleis, and estuaries have over time become so polluted that swimming or wading is not advised.
In the rivers the problem is mostly E.coli which is a bacteria found in feces while in the vleis and estuaries the problem is mostly phosphate.
Just over half of samples over the latest five-year period (2015 – 2020) show levels of E.coli which the City deems to be acceptable levels of E.coli, however, the report does not say where these samples are taken, so there is no way of determining from the report whether there are stretches of river within the city boundaries that are likely to be acceptable for recreational activities.
When it comes to the vleis and estuaries most of them are hypertrophic, which means they are prone to toxic blooms of blue-green algae.
Rietvlei in Milnerton, Zandvlei in Muizenberg, and Zeekoevlei are some of the vleis and estuaries that are affected.
The City of Cape Town plans to rehabilitate and restore these bodies of water “in line with the City’s commitment to be a water-sensitive city by 2040”.