Flooding: northern suburbs civic leaders call for action

A flooded cul-de-sac in Glenwood.

The City must come up with a plan to prevent the annual flooding that plagues the northern suburbs, say civic leaders.

Gale-force winds and heavy downpours caused flooding in low-lying areas in recent days and Goodwood, Parow, Ravensmead, Belhar and Bellville South, were among the areas that saw flooding, according to the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Management Centre. There were uprooted trees in Tyger Valley Road in Bellville and Fairfield Street in Parow. 

James Ellis of Glenwood said Glenwood, Tygerdal and Goodwood in wards 26 and 27 were flooded every year. And every time, for more than two years, the issue had been raised in sub-council meetings. 

Faizel Petersen, chairman of Goodwood Residents and Ratepayers Association, said they had called for more stormwater-drain clearing in their “wish list” for the ward budget allocations for 2020 / 2021. Some cleaning had been done a few weeks ago, specifically stormwater drains, but they had no proof that the entire area had been serviced and whether any blockages had been found.  

Mayco member for transport Felicity Purchase said higher rainfall made stormwater management difficult in Richmond, Parow Valley, Beaconvale, Vasco Estate, Riverton, Elsies River, Leonsdale, Avondale, Glenwood, Tygerdal, Goodwood Ext 1 and Townsend Estate. Most of these residential areas fall in the lower-lying flat areas between the N1 and N2 freeways.

During heavy rains, her department dealt with 350 to 600 flooding complaints a day across the city, she said.

Ms Purchase said higher risk areas for flooding were inspected and cleaned as part of the City’s winter-preparedness programme, which starts in March and ends in May, but areas cleaned in March often had to be redone – at extra cost – due to blockages in the system. Added to that, maintenance programmes had been set back by the national lockdown. Nevertheless, she said: “With the change in regulations we have increased maintenance and addressed most of the backlogs.”

She added that before the storms had hit last week municipal workers had found three duvet-cover inners blocking a flooded gully in Esperance Street, Parow. Illegal dumping like that, she said, was the biggest cause of blockages.

Ward 27 councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg said she was due to meet with the City’s transport department, and Ward 26 councillor Franchesca Walker, to address residents’ concerns and would give feedback afterwards on flooding, blocked drains, and potholes.

The levels of dams supplying Cape Town rose 9.2% from Monday July 6 to Sunday July 12, to 72.7% of their total capacity.