The City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation Directorate is calling on all residents to be proactive in helping to prevent sewer overflows, especially during winter. In one busy week alone, from Monday, 3 June, to Sunday, 9 June 2024, maintenance teams responded to 2 799 sewer blockages – almost 400 blockages a day. So far, more than half (55%) have already been cleared.  Teams will resolve the remaining service requests in the shortest time possible, as some take longer to clear due to factors such as the severity of the blockage.

 

The City’s sewer maintenance teams dedicate most of their working hours to clearing sewer blockages every day in various areas across the city.

Unblocking sewers is no easy feat, with many occupational hazards and risks associated with the unsightly task of removing foreign objects trapped in sewage flow.

Most of the time it takes hours, if not several days to completely unblock one pipeline. Teams are then quickly deployed to the next service request, resulting in thousands of complaints attended to and often successfully resolved within days.

In the past week, the top 10 hotspot areas where the highest number of sewer blockages occurred from Monday, 3 June, to Sunday, 9 June 2024, were:

Sewer blockages hotspot

Number of service requests attended to

Strand

84

Gugulethu

70

Philippi

66

Bonteheuwel

57

Eerste River

55

Wallacedene

51

Manenberg

50

Lotus River

44

Bishop Lavis

41

Nyanga

32

‘We need to work together to protect the sewer system, which we all make use of, as it is an interconnected network. Winter typically brings an increase in blockages and sewer overflows, due to higher volumes of rainwater and ongoing challenges with foreign objects flushed down the system.

‘Solid waste like chip and sweets packets belong in the bin, cooking fats or oils also shouldn’t be washed down the drain, where they clog the sewer system. This increases the likelihood of blockages and inevitably result in sewage overflows. Additionally, illegal dumping of stones, sand and building rubble through open or damaged manholes, further reduces the system’s capacity to convey wastewater and causes costly infrastructural damage.

‘City teams have been proactively cleaning sewer infrastructure and responding to service requests logged. However, residents also play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of our sewer lines. By being mindful of what we flush and pour down our drains, reporting issues promptly, and avoiding illegal dumping, we can collectively reduce the risk of sewer overflows and ensure a cleaner and safer environment for everyone,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

The City mitigates sewer blockages and overflows through proactive measures including:

Cleaning main sewer pipelines using jetting machines and combination units

Cleaning sand traps, pump station sumps and wet wells

Monitoring telemetry alarm systems at pump stations

Repairing collapsed sewers promptly

Regularly replacing broken, stolen or damaged manhole covers

Inspecting and addressing illegal stormwater-to-sewer connections

Conducting public awareness campaigns like “Bin it, Don’t Block it” to educate residents on proper waste disposal

Residents play a critical role to help prevent sewer blockages by:

Only flushing human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. Anything else blocks the pipes.

Avoid pouring cooking oils or fats down the kitchen sink. These substances harden and cause blockages.

Report stolen or broken manhole covers to prevent rainwater and debris from entering the sewer system.

Report illegal dumping and blocked drains to facilitate timely clearing and reduce overflow risks.

Use the City’s solid waste services for proper waste disposal, or take recyclables, garden greens and builders’ rubble to designated drop-off facilities.

Check for illegal stormwater-to-sewer connections and ensure rainwater gutters do not flow into the sewer system to avoid overloading.

For more tips on preventing sewer blockages, visit www.capetown.gov.za/blocked-sewers

Report service disruptions or faults:

Call Centre: 0860 103 089

SMS (water faults): 31373

Email: water@capetown.gov.za

WhatsApp: 060 018 1505

Online: www.capetown.gov.za/ServiceRequests](www.capetown.gov.za/ServiceRequests

Walk-in Centres and Subcouncil offices

Please ensure to obtain a reference number for any service request to facilitate follow-up. With WhatsApp, Online and email, you can also submit photographs of the incident where applicable.

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