One does not exactly expect to be floating in poop along such a beautiful and pristine coastline as False Bay. But it is far from pristine. What lies on top and below the ocean beauty is tainted by negative human impact. On a number of occasions, and from our eco-tourism centre, Shark Warrior Adventure Centre situated at Seaforth beach, we have sea-kayaked in floating poop! Now this is not good for tourism when a tourist asks: “What is this stuff floating on the surface?” “Umm, sorry to tell you Mr American, but it’s poop!” “Urg! but they said Cape Town was one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it stinks!”
For far too long our oceans have been seen as a vast expanse which could dilute and essentially make our waste disappear. However, this is far from the truth since more than 80% of global sewage flows into our seas untreated – sewage is therefore one of the biggest contributors to ocean pollution.
Sewage is a complex cocktail containing a plethora of substances which are not only harmful to humans but also harmful to the environment. For example, too much sewage entering our oceans results in lack of oxygen in the ocean which then creates dead zones, areas where fish and other marine life are unable to grow or survive. Not to mention the fact that the marine life we eat contain drugs found in the sewage such as antibiotics and hormones, which are harmful to humans.
I have been told by the City that funding is lacking to address the problems of failed pumps and old, outdated systems, which are taking greater strain with increased loadshedding: Lights go out, pumps fail and poop overflows into the sea…
But it is the City’s responsibility to protect its people and visiting tourists as well as the natural environment – excuses, valid or not are no longer acceptable. It is peak tourist and holiday season and the City depends on the revenue from this industry – funding needs to be channelled to address this ongoing problem which is escalating.
Loadshedding is not going to go away and neither is the problem of sewage spills until solutions are implemented as a matter of urgency to safeguard people and the oceans upon which so many depend. And this is the responsibility of the City of Cape Town. Find the money, it might even be hidden in a couch!