“Bay of Sewage” documentary highlights extent of dumping by City of Cape Town

Mark Jackson, a Cape Town filmmaker working towards producing a full length feature film has created a short documentary entitled, Bay of Sewage. The video illuminates the City of Cape Town’s dumping of millions of litres of raw sewage into the ocean at Camps Bay and around the Atlantic Seaboard. Camps Bay is an affluent suburb of Cape Town and in summer it attracts a large number of foreign visitors as well as South Africans.

Cape Town City legally dumps vast amounts of untreated sewage into the ocean on a daily basis, but just because its legal, does it make it ethical? Jackson’s documentary outlines the potential problems that could arise because of the dumping, as well as offering some solutions.

The video is captioned with:

Every day, the famous Camps Bay region in Cape Town, South Africa, is discharging million of litres of untreated waste-water into our marine reserve. This is creating some serious and growing problems, for the vulnerable sea-life, for us water-users and soon for beach-goers too. The bathing area of Maiden’s Cove is perhaps most at risk.

This short documentary by Cape Town filmmaker Mark Jackson lifts the lid on the scale of the challenges we face, and offers us some solutions.

The documentary focuses on the Camps Bay outfall, but the same problems are occurring in Hout Bay, which is releasing effluent into a much more tightly enclosed bay.

And this is happening on a much larger scale at Green Point too, where we believe apparently all the effluent from the city bowl is being discharged.

We believe all three areas are discharging effluent without any treatment except screening. (And screening is NOT primary treatment, it is merely preliminary treatment i.e. that which occurs before treatment, mainly to remove trash, like nappies, that get caught in the system.)

We believe the city of Cape Town has appeared to claim our outfalls are safe by comparing us to Sydney, which also uses marine outfalls. However, we don’t believe such a comparison is valid, because Sydney does do primary treatment. We don’t do any primary treatment!

For the record, the filmmaker did try to get commentary from several top university engineers, before completion of the film, but all politely declined to be interviewed on film.

UPDATE: It has come to our attention that a common enterococci standard is 100/100ml, and not 50 as implied in our video. However, this difference is perhaps irrelevant in scale when some of the city’s own results seem to have indicated enterococci of up to, or over, 5000.