Heritage Cases

Robben Island WWTW

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ProposalDescription: 

This is a repeat application for an Environmental Authorisation that has expired (Ref: 14/12/16/3/3/3/83). There is currently no formal Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) on Robben Island. All sewage is pumped by six pump stations to a collection sump near Robert Sobukwe’s former residence, where it is macerated and pumped along the outfall sewer pipeline to discharge through a diffuser 465 m offshore. The proponent, Robben Island Museum (RIM), therefore proposes to construct a WWTW with a daily throughput capacity of 300m3 per day on the eastern side of Robben Island in Table Bay. Treated effluent will gravitate to the existing sewage collector sump at the proposed WWTW site from where it will be pumped along the existing outfall sewer pipeline to discharge through a diffuser 465 m offshore. The project site is bounded to the northeast by Murray’s Bay beach (80 m), to the north by the Dog Unit (Robert Sobukwe Complex) (30 m), to the west by Murray’s Road (50 m) and to the south by the Robben Island village (400 m) (Figure 1-1). A Basic Assessment (BA) was previously undertaken by WSP in 2014/15. An Environmental Authorisation (EA) was secured for the proposed WWTW on 27 March 2015 and an extension was granted on 27 March 2018 (Ref: 14/12/16/3/3/3/83). The WWTW authorised in the EA was for a treatment capacity of 108,000 m3 per annum with all the effluent generated on the Island discharged via a marine outfall into the coastal environment after treatment. The design allowed for a maximum discharge volume of 300m3 per day. The EA states “this activity must commence within a period of five (5) years from the date of EA issued on 27 March 2015 (i.e. the EA lapses on 27 March 2020). If the commencement of the activities does not occur within that period, the authorisation lapses and a new application for environmental authorisation must be made in order for the activity to be undertaken.” Due to unforeseen circumstances, the project did not commence by the expiry date of 27 March 2020 and the EA subsequently lapsed. RIM is therefore required to apply for a new EA.

Expanded_Motivation: 

There is currently no formal WWTW on Robben Island. All sewage is pumped by six pump stations to a collection sump near Robert Sobukwe’s former residence, where it is macerated and pumped along the outfall sewer pipeline to discharge through a diffuser 465 m offshore. The site is located on Robben Island which is a National and World Heritage Site. In order for the island to continue to be utilised as an educational and cultural heritage resource, it is vital that the proposed WWTW is constructed given that the current infrastructure is operating inefficiently and is resulting in unacceptable water quality impacts. In 2004, the impacts of the marine sewer outfall were recognised as one of the threats to the Robben Island World Heritage site, which if not adequately managed or controlled could adversely impact on the integrity of the area.8 A competent sewage management service will mitigate and minimise environmental and human health risks posed by untreated sewage discharges. The approval of the WWTW would not compromise the integrity of the existing environmental management priorities of the island. The WWTW is to be located on an already highly degraded portion of the island. Once constructed, the activity is not expected to have any long-term negative impacts on the environment. In fact, an overall improvement in the offshore marine environment can be expected as a result of this project. The population of Robben Island is around 116 persons. The majority of people visiting the island are tourists and school groups. The WWTW is required by the small population of Robben Island and visitors in order to be able to treat sewage to required water quality standards as defined by NEMICMA. It is therefore deemed a social priority in that it provides the necessary sanitation and will lead to an overall improvement in the discharge quality from the island.

ApplicationDate: 

Thursday, August 11, 2022 - 19:27

CaseID: 

19283

OtherReferences: 

Dept CaseReference DueDate FinalDecision
DFFE 14/12/16/3/3/3/404 31/08/2022

ReferenceList: 

 
 

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