R1.3m drainage study to tackle Kraaifontein flooding

The decrepit municipal drainage system in Kraaifontein has been blamed for frequent winter flooding.

The City will spend R1.3m on a study to gauge what fixes are needed for Kraaifontein’s creaky municipal drainage system, to blame for frequent winter flooding, a sub-council meeting heard last week.

The City’s catchment, stormwater and rivers manager Conrad Frense told the virtual meeting of Sub-council 2 that the study should be completed by October.

But with winter on its way, councillors wanted to know what would happen before then to prevent the flooding that has frequently plagued Kraaifontein. Roads in Wallacedene were deluged in showers just days before the meeting (“Meet the men fixing Wallacedene’s broken roads,” Northern News,“ March 10).

Sub-council chairwoman Brenda Hansen tabled a motion to discuss the stormwater and flooding crisis plaguing several parts of Kraaifontein.

The DA’s Ward 102 councillor Rhynhardt Bresler – whose constituency covers De Tuin, Morgenster, Vredekloof, Arauna, Morgenster Hoogte and Windsor Park – said he was worried that winter would bring flooding to the area.

Marian Nieuwoudt, the DA’s Ward 8 councillor and the mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, suggested councillors write to mayor Dan Plato and the city manager about the the historical flooding problem and that the poor state of the stormwater system could make the City liable for damage claims.

“The City knew about this problem,” a frustrated Ms Nieuwoudt said.

Mr Frense said there was no need for such a letter to the mayor and city manager. He said City officials had scouted across the city to find way to piggyback onto other tenders to speed up improvements to the stormwater system, including “half-round channels” or water pipelines.

Mr Bresler told the Northern News that Kraaifontein had been using half-round channels since it was a municipality of its own. The infrastructure had aged.

Earlier in the meeting, Mr Frense said that before any work could be done, a “master planning” study was needed to gauge what improvements were needed. Those studies would be done by his branch and the City’s transport directorate.

“I can confirm we have an estimated cost for this study – it’s R1.3m excluding VAT. The time frame is October 2021. We are in the process of commencing the study.

“The study area doesn’t just include the sections of half-round channels, but additional areas where flooding has been identified and this includes Viben [Avenue in Brackenfell Industrial] and 8th Avenue [Kraaifontein] as they fall in the same catchment as the half-rounds.”

On Thursday March 18, the Northern News asked the City why it was necessary to spend R1.3 million on what appeared to be an in-house study. Despite sending reminders on Friday March 19 and again on Tuesday this week, the City failed to answer that question by deadline.

In the meeting, Ms Nieuwoudt cautiously welcomed the study but asked when “actual work” would start. Mr Frense would not commit to a specific date, saying only that it could be in the “latter part” of the study or September. He referred questions to the City’s transport directorate.

Once the study had been done, a “detailed design” could take two or three months, he said.

City transport official Mahmood Achmat said: “We are in process with the planning… but it is a bit difficult to give a date now. In the interim, there is no real solution to this problem [of flooding], except for the proposed stormwater modelling and upgrading of infrastructure. At the moment, we’re dealing with it on an ad hoc basis.”

Mr Bresler said stormwater systems couldn’t cope with the previous week’s moderate rains and water pump stations were “already a problem”.

He asked the two City officials what their emergency and immediate plans were for this winter. Mr Achmat said they were fixed flooding issues on an “ad hoc basis”. He said he was unable to comment on pump stations.