Lotus River battles ongoing sewage spills

A temporary pipe has been installed to allow sewage flow while a contractor is appointed for the repair.

Frustrated Lotus River who say ongoing sewage spills in their area remain a problem despite numerous complaints have now taken it upon themselves to clean up the mess.

For the past couple of years Lotus River resident Paul Phillips has been calling for intervention about the sewerage issues in Oribi Street and roads surrounding it after a sewer main at Huis Moria, a retirement village between Oribi and 6th Avenues, had collapsed near the park in Lotus River.

In 2019, said Mr Phillips, contractors hired by the City would pump out the sewer but not clean up afterwards. Or they would use chemicals to get rid of the smell.

“This is a health hazard and with Covid-19 it is even more so. Children and residents have to clean because the City just doesn’t permanently fix the problem.

“There’s faeces on the road surface, on the space where children play and where programmes are run from. The contractors are interim solutions but there needs to be a sustainable solution. Nothing has changed since we first reported it. There is still sewage in the street and running into water outlets. The entire sewerage system is outdated and overloaded because backyard back yardwellers and the high population of residents and their sewage was never taken into consideration,” said Mr Phillips.

Resident Mandy October said the sewage spills occurred almost daily: “Every other day the road is filled with sewage and we have to walk past and in it – the smell is unbearable. When the contractors come the problem is not resolved at all,” she said.

Community worker Keith Blake wrote to the City of Cape Town about the issue, which he believes has resulted from poor workmanship.

“I am shocked and angry when I realise that this poor workmanship and resources will never be done in a middle class suburb but yet blatantly done in a poor Cape Flats suburbs.

The leaking overpumping pipe spills sewage in Oribi Street.

He demanded a resolution to the problem and for an investigation to be started to find a permanent solution.

The City’s Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said the issue related to a collapsed pipe and that the appointment of a contractor to conduct the repair is under way.

She added that a temporary pipe had been installed to allow sewage flow while a contractor is appointed to do the repair work.

She said the contractor would also be required to identify possible unseen faults or stubborn blockages which could be contributing factors.

Ms Limberg said the leaking pipe had been repaired on Monday April 19 and that there were currently no leaks on site.

However, she said, residents would also have a role to play in ensuring the problem doesn’t occur again.

“Inappropriate materials thrown into the sewer network is the leading cause of blockages,” she said.

“Generally, the majority of blockages across the city, are caused by misuse of the sewer system, especially when items such as rags, newspapers, feminine hygiene products, nappies, wet wipes, building materials, are disposed of into the system, as well as the build-up of cooking fat/oil into the sewer system.”

She said the City clears the blockages and overflows as and when they are reported, but the situation will continue until these items stop being flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain.

“We encourage residents and businesses to please dispose of these items appropriately,” said Ms Limberg.

Residents can report sewer blockages, missing drain covers, or vandalism burst pipes, leaks and water wastage using one of the following options:

Online www.capetown.gov.za/servicerequests

Email water@capetown.gov.za

SMS 31373 (maximum 160 characters. Standard rates apply)

Call 0860 103 089

Visit a City walk-in centre (see www.capetown.gov.za/facilities to find the one closest to you)