As a pilot and marine conservation photographer, as part of my job I fly around the peninsular coastline, two or three times a week and about 5 years ago we started noticing large white plumes on the surface of the see at three distinctive spots. Doing a bit of research I subsequently found out that these are the three marine outfalls that serve the Atlantic seaboard for the city of Cape Town. The three outfalls, there’s one in Hout Bay, one in Camps Bay and one in Green Point and cumulatively they put 55 million liters a day of untreated raw screened sewerage into the ocean. What that means is that the sewerage gets passed through a series of meshed screens, to reduce the bigger things, like if there are any nappies or sanitary towels in the system they get screened off. There is no treatment per se and that sewerage gets pumped 1.5 km’s offshore. Basically dumped in the sea through a diffuser pipe. It’s like having a sprinkler on the end of the hosepipe, it gets spread and basically goes into the sea, and when see conditions are right, it’s always going into the sea all the time, but when conditions are right it bubbles up to the surface and is clearly visible from above. Flying and boating around the area you can see it and smell it.
Obviously, there is a high amount of E-coli in the water, although according to what I’ve seen it can be fairly localised around the outfalls, so swimming in the water around the outfalls is a very poor idea as you can get very very sick. There are divers, surfers and kayakers that have gotten fairly ill from being in that water. At the same time, there are other chemicals. Anything that we put in our showers or our toilets….