Sewage spill causes stink

* Raw sewage in Oribi

Lotus River residents want answers from the City of Cape Town about a stench they claim has been hanging in the area for two years.

They are also questioning the sewerage and drainage system.

When Southern Mail visited the area, stagnant raw sewage water lay next to a park in Oribi Avenue after contractors pumped out one of the drains.

A sewer main at Huis Moria, a retirement village between Oribi and 6th Avenues, had collapsed near the park in Lotus River.

Oribi avenue resident Paul Phillips said after several complaints to the City for two years, a permanent solution has still not been reached and the smell and run-off of sewage water has become worse.

He said contractors hired by the City often pump out the sewer but don’t clean up afterwards or use chemicals to get rid of the smell.

“The contractors provide poor service delivery. There’s a total disregard for safety, health and non- compliance to any other preventative measures, that may put the children and community at risk. There are no warning signs when they pump out the drains either or to show that it’s a dangerous area.

“There’s faeces on the road surface, on the space where children play and where programmes are run from. The contractors are interim solutions. There needs to be a sustainable solution that fixes the ongoing problem. The City only sends out contractors when we complain. This needs to be addressed. Why do our people have to live in filth?” he asked.

“I don’t think the City has an adequate sewerage system and many of them are blocked. This is very poor service delivery. The system doesn’t have the capacity to cater for the growing population,” said Mr Phillips.

Another resident, Gail Jonas said the smell of sewage is constantly in the area and in their homes.

“It is so bad, our children play in this filth, and we have to make food, and walk past this filth every day. Why has nothing been done about this problem when we are tax-paying residents who deserve better services? Our children deserve to play in a safer environment. They can get sick from this stagnant raw sewage because many times I see them playing in the water,” she said.

Resident Peter Alberts also questioned the City’s sewerage system.

“The money that is spent on those contractors can be used to fix the drainage system. It is outdated and needs to be upgraded. Instead the City keep spending money on a system that is not capable of running properly. Use our money wisely and fix the problem, don’t just put a plaster on it,” said Mr Alberts.

Xanthea Limberg, the City’s mayoral committee member for water and waste, said the City is aware of the problem and has a contractor on site to repair the sewer.

A sewer main at the old age home between Oribi and 6th Avenues, has collapsed near the park in Lotus River. The contractor is currently on site repairing the sewer.

“The work entails by-passing the area by over-pumping to another sewer main. This is done in order to provide relief to other residents upstream of the collapse. This procedure is only conducted when a pipe collapses or there are very stubborn blockages,” she said.

Ms Limberg said dumping is to blame for blockages and that as long as dumping into the sewer system continues, blockages will continue.

“Residents and businesses in the area are reminded that in terms of the Wastewater and Industrial Effluent By-law no person may discharge substances into a municipal sewer that will interfere with the free flow of sewage. Only toilet paper, human waste, and greywater should enter the system,’ she said.

Responding to claims that the City’s sewerage infrastructure is inadequate Ms Limberg said the City works to maintain its infrastructure and will continue to do so.

“We need residents to work with us to keep the systems functional. The system is designed to accommodate the needs of all residents in the area, but will not work effectively if residents misuse it.

“The current drainage system is adequate to meet the demand and operates normally most of the time. However, there are plans in place to upgrade the system in the near future,” she said.

Some of the dangers of being exposed to raw sewage includes viruses such as hepatitis A and gastroenteritis, bacteria such as E.coli and salmonellosis and parasites such as giardiasis, which causes diarrhoea.