Residents raise stink over golf-course effluent

Residents living near the Westlake golf course have complained about the smell of the effluent being used to irrigate the greens.

Residents living above Westlake Golf Course are threatening legal action unless the course stops using effluent from a sewage-treatment plant to irrigate the greens.

The Strandfontein sewage plant supplies both Westlake and Steenberg golf estates with the effluent.

“The stench is so foul that most nights I wake up gagging. My son is autistic, and I had to buy him an air conditioner due to the trauma this has caused him,” says Glenn Sullivan, an attorney who lives in Stonehurst Mountain Estate.

The estate has sent a lawyer’s letter to the golf club asking it to stop irrigating with effluent until it is better treated.

“Unfortunately, they have ignored the request and continue to irrigate using the foul water,” said Stonehurst Mountain Estate manager Marcel Matusik.

“Our residents are very concerned about the health risks due to the smell, as some children, and adults, experienced headaches and are unable to sleep at night.”

Marie Petousis, of Orchard Village, said the defecation-like stench started when the club sprayed the greens, on a rotation basis, from around 7pm until 6.30am.

“We sweat indoors, forced to close all windows and doors as the stench is unbearable, palpable, even taste-able. Health-wise and psychologically it robs us of our basic well-being,” she said.

Julie van der Westhuizen, of Lakeside, said it smelt like raw sewage. “When we are having supper, it puts us off our food. The smell penetrates into all of the rooms of our house and hangs around, especially when the north wind is blowing.”

The Toad on the Road manager, Eva Byamukondiwa, said the smell was so bad that they had called in a plumber to look at their drainage pipe.

Terence Maguire, also of Orchard Village, said residents had to retreat indoors and close windows and doors, despite the stifling heat, when the golf course sprinklers came on.

“It’s impossible to enjoy the garden, the swimming pool or a braai during these hot summer evenings once the golf course sprinklers start.”

The problem began in October and got worse in mid-December, according to Ivor Cohen, of Orchard Village, who contacted the ward councillor, Carolynne Franklin.

She suggested that he join Kirstenhof and Environs Residents’ Association and start a WhatsApp group to record the times when the smell was noticeable. Mr Cohen did that and had 95 residents join the group.

Ms Franklin said she had set up a meeting with, among others, the Steenberg and Westlake golf clubs and the Strandfontein sewage plant management to discuss the issue.

Westlake Golf Club manager David Smith said the most recent meeting had been on Thursday January 20. He said the sewage plant had told the club that the water was tested every month to check it was adequately treated and suitable for irrigation.

Mr Smith said both Steenberg and Westlake clubs had done their own tests and they were waiting for results to see what had caused the increasingly bad smell.

Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Zahid Badroodien said a pump that had helped to recirculate water in the outer channel of the sewage plant’s maturation ponds had been decommissioned three years ago, but it would be re-installed as one of the measures to remedy the problem.

And chlorine dosing would be done to improve the quality of the effluent, he said.

Mr Smith said the golf clubs and the City had acted promptly and the problem had been resolved.

The club had changed its watering schedules, and was now irrigating from 11pm at night to accommodate nearby residents.

Walter Tarr, CEO of Steenberg Golf Club said the management and treatment of the water was the municipality’s responsibility.

The Strandfontein sewage plant supplies both Westlake and Steenberg golf estates with the effluent.
Steenberg Golf Course also uses effluent from a sewage treatment plant to irrigate the greens.
The storage dam at Westlake Golf Course.