Once again Fish Hoek Beach, one of our premier tourist attractions, has made headlines for poor water quality. While the sea water generally conforms to international safety standards, after rain events, episodes of high faecal coliform contamination are recorded.
Apparently Fish Hoek Beach is not the `victim’ of a slowly leaking sewer, but rather of a general lack of good housekeeping by business and local residents. Unfortunately, with two major stormwater outfalls discharging directly onto the swimming beach, for Fish Hoek it is a case of what you sow you reap.
Storm water systems are supposed to carry clean run-off. But because of careless `housekeeping’, rainwater washes mess into the stormwater, as does hosing down yards and street frontages. This ends up on the beach. If that is not enough, between big rain events, the storm water outlet becomes blocked with sand. This results in a pipe length of contaminated water which becomes a septic breeding ground for bacteria and eventually spills out onto the beach when the sand wall is broken by a rain event or a big sea. Yuck!!
If Fish Hoek wants to wave a big Blue Flag of welcome over its beach the following needs to be done:
- Businesses and residents need to take responsibility for how they manage their waste, their bins, any spills and their yards. It is illegal to wash or hose organic matter from bins or premises into the stormwater system.
- It is irresponsible to pour solids or fats and oils down the drain as it is only a matter of time before this combination causes pipe blockages. When a sewer line becomes blocked, an overflow system diverts it into the stormwater. In Fish Hoek that could end up at the beach. Our families and our tourists swim at the beach – so let’s get real
- Vagrants and street people must be stopped from using spaces between buildings and stormwater culverts as toilets.
- Dog owners must poop scoop and bin it or better still put it in a doggy-do composter.
With only one City stormwater inspector for the entire Far South Peninsula, it is up to all of us to be self regulating and to clean-up our acts. People can report illegal discharges into the streets and the stormwater to 0860103054.
From the above, it is clear that the solution is not expensive or high-tech. It does however require everyone to be fastidious. Is that so much to ask for the privilege of swimming at one of the best beaches in the country?