The public has been warned not to swim in the lagoon near Grotto beach, due to a potential sewage spill at the municipal pump station inside the Hermanus Scout Camp near the mouth of the Klein River estuary.
The incident occurred earlier this month after the pump station experienced an electrical problem after the heavy rains. The sump was emptied immediately after the problem had been detected, and the electrical fault was repaired on the same day that the incident occurred. The warning signage was erected as a precautionary measure, although no sewerage spill was visible in the estuary at the time of the incident.
The initial water test results upstream and downstream of the pump station indicated similar water quality.
Whenever a sewage spill occurs, certain procedures are followed.
The Overberg District Municipality (ODM) as the management authority for estuaries is informed, and they decide whether signage should be erected to warn the public of possible pollution. Signage is only removed once ODM is satisfied that the water is safe for public recreational use, following sampling and testing and re-sampling as necessary.
Blue Flag beach
Due to the fact that the estuary is closed and the water is not flowing into the sea, the potential spillage would have no impact on the Blue Flag beach swimming area, as the incident took place some distance from the Blue Flag beach. Water samples at the Blue Flag beach are taken regularly and the water quality at the swimming area was not affected at all. If an incident like this takes place near a Blue Flag beach, the Municipality is required to take down the flag if the water quality fails and mitigate the problem until it has been rectified, and they then continue taking water samples until it has cleared.
In this case the water was not affected and therefore it is not necessary to take down the flag.