A damaged manhole in Zeekoevlei has caused a week long sewage spill. Picture: Supplied
A damaged manhole in Zeekoevlei has caused a week long sewage spill. Picture: Supplied

Residents fury over sewage spills in Zeekoevlei

By Keshia Africa Time of article published Jul 8, 2021

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Residents are angry about a sewage spill from a damaged manhole in to Zeekoevlei.

Zeekoevlei resident Vanessa Farr took to the Action for Responsible Management of Our Rivers (ARMOUR) Facebook group to shed light on the matter.

Farr’s post, on Tuesday, said, “Millions of litres of untreated sewage have been flowing from a broken pipe into Zeekoevlei since July 1. No action from the CoCT (City of Cape Town) although we were assured Green Scorpions would be there by this morning.”

Farr shared that the area was filled with a foul-smelling odour and that a layer of brown scum was scattered all over.

“This vlei is next to Pelican Park, which has a big community of young families in it. Young children that are exposed to sewage can become very ill,” she said.

Tom Schwerdtfeger is the vice-chair of The Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei organisation and was informed of the sewage spill on Sunday.

Late yesterday afternoon, the False Bay Nature Reserve Management and their staff tried to divert the spill.

The False Bay Nature Reserve Management and staff at work yesterday. Picture: Supplied.

Schwerdtfeger said: “They’ve managed to rebuild the manhole and pump the water into an adjacent pipeline. This is only a temporary solution because with the rain we currently have, it is most likely to start again.”

Schwerdtfeger met with City officials on Wednesday to look at what is causing the sewage spill.

Schwerdtfeger said this was the first time that they found the cause of the problem.

“At the sewage works tank, there are four screws that lift the sewage into the plant. Unfortunately, only one of the screws is working at the moment,” he said.

A temporary measure has been put in place to assist the one working screw at the sewage plant. Eight pumps are now run at a cost of R250 000 per month, per pump.

“The city now has to pay R2 million per month to pump sewage when they’ve known for a while that the screws need to be replaced,” Schwerdtfeger said.

The City’s media office said that the City was doing everything possible to minimise the environmental impact of the sewer overflow.

“Three of the four permanent pumps have experienced mechanical failure due to dumping into sewers. The screws were replaced in 2018. Without the illegal dumping of items such as bricks into the sewer system, these screws should last for at least 15 years,” the City said.

“The rain that filled our dams by nearly 15% in one week put significant pressure on the temporary fix."

The City said this specific manhole was significantly damaged but it was still unclear what could have caused it.

Further investigations are planned to delve into the matter and additional temporary pumps are being sourced by the City to divert sewage away from the vlei.

The City has built a cofferdam with sandbags to stop the flow of wastewater from the damaged manhole into the vlei.

Weekend Argus

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