Sewage water used for crops

Philippi farmers tell EWN they're being forced to illegaly use dirty water to irrigate crops.

Polluted water from the Lotus River is being used to irrigate Philippi crops. Picture: Aletta Gardener/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Some farmers in Philippi have told Eyewitness News they are being forced to illegally use dirty water to irrigate their crops.

The farmers say the degradation of the Lotus River, which runs through the area, is at the heart of their woes.

The river was once a pristine, highly valued source for irrigating crops, but it has now been reduced to an eyesore and major health hazard.

When visiting the river, Eyewitness News witnessed litter strewn alongside the river and a powerful stench of raw sewage emanating from it.

Farmers say it has been four years since they have been asked not to use the river for anything.

But they say they do not have any alternative and the city has ignored their pleas.

Some farmers have given up while others continue using the contaminated river water.

They have attached their own purification devices to irrigate their crops.

Meetings between the farmers and city officials have been held in the past, but no solution has yet been found.