Sewage spills into Nahoon Estuary
In 2016 the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Eastern Cape developed and published a Nahoon Estuarine Management Plan together with concerned Nahoon stakeholders acting in terms of section 34 and 53 of National Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008).
The plan was promulgated in the provincial gazette in 2016. It contains a range of actions that address all the identified critical issues that are threatening the Estuary, with time frames and persons of responsibility.
In 2019, the plan is yet to be adopted by the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality into their IDP/Budget. Instead the Estuary and its large number of species is invaded, daily, by sewage spills that have endangered the Nahoon beach and its rivers. Recently, Nahoon stakeholders set up a constitutioned management forum that seeks to hold the Metro legally responsible for the dangers that face the Estuary. “We have tried our best to get the attention of BCM to get them to implement the plan, but there has been no reaction. Our biggest problem is there are ongoing daily sewage spills, rivers of sewage. On-going sewage pills are caused by old and failing sewage infrastructure of the Metro.
The Nahoon Beach sewage pump station crosses what is now known as the ‘dirty river’, and the pipes are so old that there are overflows when its full, and when the power goes out, the pump ceases to work,” said Chris Theart, chairperson of the Forum who has been an activist of the Estuary since 2012.
The Estuary is a unique biodiversity that needs protection with 202 bird species and 24 fish species. Poor water quality compromises their livelihood.
“There are five critical issues that are strangling the Estuary. High up on their list is the deteriorating water quality, the spread of alien and invasive species, the lack of freshwater inflow as well sewage spilling into the estuary,” he detailed.
According to Theart, the plan was introduced at a Council meeting a few years ago, and it was suggested that members be appointed to sit on an inter-governmental committee to see to the implementation, but there is no inter-governmental committee since that decision was taken in 2017.
Legally BCM has to adopt the plan and integrate it into their IDP and budget in order to complete the actions according to the Water Act which states that no one may cause pollution of a water body.
The Forum has written to the City Manager numerous times but there has been no reaction. The Department of Water of Sanitation, custodians of the Estuary have agreed to meet with the Forum this July. The Department has sent a directive to BCM, but nothing has come out of that.
Theart says the Forum will have to approach the high court to force the City to integrate the plan into the IDP.
“estuary” means a body of surface water— (a) that is part of a water course that is permanently or periodically open to the sea.