Fat-blocked drains cause flooding

Mitchell’s Plain residents waited for days for the City of Cape Town to help unblock sewers and stormwater pipes to help drain flooding.

Vehicles drive through flooding at the corner of Langeberg Avenue and AZ Berman Drive, Tafelsig.

Sonia Brand, from Rocklands, complained about faeces floating in her driveway and having to skip over puddles to get out of her house on Wednesday June 30 – two days later it had not yet been resolved.

She had to clear her own driveway of the neighbourhood waste.

Another Eastridge resident said they reported flooding on Monday June 28 and that council workers only came out on the morning of Thursday July 1 to unblock the drain and sewerage.

Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79 and Wolfgat Sub-council (Sub-council 12) chairman, said it had been a tough week but that they had tried to be proactive in having asked for winter preparedness programmes in May already.

Clearing blocked drains.

“Because of the heavy rains the stormwater pipes were not clear to drain the water and blocked sewerage pipes were main contributors to flooding in the area,” he said.

Mr Philander said the incorrect reporting of problems was a major contributor to delaying the right officials to come out to clear the problem.

He acknowledged that waiting for a problem to be resolved for up to four days was inexcusable.

“If it is reported immediately and correctly then the response time should be within a day,” he said.

He said gang violence also contributed to teams not going out to certain areas because they fear for their safety.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for waste and water, said the Rocklands sewer blockage, caused by fats, was cleared on Friday July 2.

“Fats are one of the main causes of blockages throughout the city. When they cool down, they harden and accumulate on the inside of the pipe, making it smaller over time,” she said.

Ms Limberg said it is illegal to wash fats down the sink. “Please wipe them off your pots and pans before you wash dishes,” she said.

Investigations on site showed that fats had accumulated in both the main line and several residential sewer connections to this line.

“Indicating that residents in the immediate area are contributing significantly to the problem.

“Residents must please help educate their neighbours about the consequences of putting fats and other blockage-causing materials into the system,” she said.

The City pledged to continue to clear blockages as they are reported.

In order to minimise blockages, residents need to ensure they use sewers only for human waste and grey water, as well as toilet paper.

Ms Limberg said in terms of the Consumer Service Charter, a response is required within 24 hours.

She said factors as to whether the job requires a specialist contractor to resolve, whether it is safe for teams to enter the area, can impact on turnaround time.

“Unfortunately, our teams have increasingly become targets of crime, and in some cases, they can only attend to service requests escorted by law enforcement as a precautionary measure,” she said.

She said a meaningful improvement and reduction in overflows required a shift in behaviour and habits in society.

“We all need to be much more conscious of what we flush down the toilets as inappropriate items damage the sewer infrastructure,” she said.

Report vandalism damages, sewer blockages, missing drain covers, burst pipes, leaks and water wastage using one of the following channels: online visit www.capetown.gov.za/servicerequests; email water@capetown.gov.za; SMS 31373; call 086 010 3089; or visit a City walk-in centre.

Residents lodging a complaint must submit their street address and get a reference number.