R50m to hold the line in Wallacedene, Bloekombos sewage struggle

Streets in Wallacedene and Bloekombos are frequently mired in raw sewage. The City blames the area’s sanitation problems on old infrastructure and land invasions, among other things.

The City is to spend more than R50 million on short-term measures to fix overflowing sewers in Wallacedene and Bloekombos where illegal shacks are crammed on top of pipelines and poor sanitation is rife.

Details of the “interim plan” are outlined in a report, “Sewer Overflows Interim Solutions”, tabled at last month’s Sub-council 2 meeting.

The issue is being tackled by three City directorates: water and sanitation, community services and health, and urban mobility.

The City has blamed nagging sanitation problems in the area on old infrastructure and land invasions, among other things.

The report notes high E coli levels in water samples taken from stormwater detention ponds in the area. A detention pond is part of the stormwater system and is meant to only receive stormwater.

According to mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas, sewage discharge has affected the Plantation, Botfontein, Sandringham and Maroela ponds.

Signs posted near the ponds to warn of the pollution had been stolen, said mayoral committee member for community services and health Patricia van der Ross.

However, mayoral committee member for water Zahid Badroodien said the contaminated water was caught by berms and pumped back into the sewerage system for treatment.

Land grabs had prevented maintenance, and illegal electrical connections had caused a transformer in Wallacedene’s Swelleni Street to blow out, crippling pump stations and causing sewage spills in the streets and detention ponds, said Dr Badroodien.

A planned diversion of the sewer pipeline running through Masondo Street, Wallacedene had been delayed due to the unlawful occupation there, he said.

The report says officials are working on “reducing the high E coli levels experienced in the detention ponds”.

Illegal electrical connections caused a transformer in Wallacedene’s Swelleni Street to blow out, crippling pump stations and causing sewage spills in the streets, says mayoral committee member for water Zahid Badroodien.

The upgrading of the sewer pipeline along Swelleni Street in Wallacedene has been put on hold because the upgrade can only take place once the repairs at the Wallacedene pump station have been completed.

Dr Badroodien said the interim plan, which is costing the City R54.8 million over the next two years, excluded medium- to long-term solutions and sewer upgrades or increasing capacity of the water and sewer infrastructure.

The money is being spent on generators at Daza and Wallacedene pump stations and sand traps in Sam Njokozela, Maggato and Maroela streets to stop sand blocking the sewer pipeline.

Sewer pipelines will also be cleaned daily in the area and the flow of raw sewage into Sandringham and Botfontein ponds will be limited.

“The purpose of this plan is to reduce and limit the effect on the environment and health, resulting from sewer overflows/services, by implementing daily proactive sewer operations while the City seeks long-term solutions for growing informality,” said Dr Badroodien.

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