Rains pile pressure on stormwater systems

Ongoing rains and domestic waste being dumped into the stormwater systems have resulted in water overflowing from drains across Hout Bay.
Heavy rains continue to wreak havoc in Hout Bay, this time causing severe pressure on the stormwater system.

As the rains continue to lash Hout Bay – and the rest of the city – its stormwater system is taking a pounding.

But there are plans to completely upgrade water infrastructure in Hout Bay during the new financial year, said ward councillor Rob Quintas.

Lucinda Jeffries from Hout Bay said stormwater drains could be seen “bubbling up” all over the area.

“We have experienced some heavy rainfall and it seems like our stormwater system is unable to handle the pressure, now we drains bubbling up everywhere,” she said.

She explained that the Hout Bay Gateway Circle opposite Hout Bay police station was flooded with raw sewerage and rain water, and that the stormwater system appeared to be buckling under the pressure.

“We saw how the water came exploding out of one the drains and that is proof that our stormwater system cannot handle this kind of pressure,” Ms Jeffries said.

Bobbie Fitchen, also from Hout Bay, said residents were experiencing “endless problems” with burst water pipes.

“We are experiencing problems with burst water pipes throughout the Valley. Due to the failing infrastructure, the City is unwilling to acknowledge that all the burst pipes are causing a myriad of problems down the line,” he said.

According to Mr Fitchen, several residents had also reported leaks on their properties.

“Many of the leaks are undetected until the municipal bill arrives – and last year due to the hard lockdown many people did not even receive their bills. When bills arrived, the water usage was massive and of course the amount owing is in the region of R60 000 to R70 000,” Mr Fitchen claims.

After connecting with a number of people in Hout Bay using social media, he discovered the problems were “so much bigger”.

“I have several people who have been in touch with me. I am aware the lobby groups are working with the City regarding the sewage issues and water pollution of the rivers, and this is part of the bigger problem the Valley is facing,“ Mr Fitchen said.

Earlier this year, several stormwater drains were overflowing with raw sewage, running down to the Hout Bay Gateway Circle, flooding the area with sewage water running down from Imizamo Yethu, which then ran into the Disa River, into the lagoon and eventually landing up in the ocean, (“Rivers flowing with problems”, Sentinel News, April 29).

Linda Schmiedeke, a member of the Hout Bay Ratepayers’ Association, conducted a study into the problems surrounding the stormwater system and pollution of the rivers. She found that the stretch running parallel with Main Road, alongside Imizamo Yethu (IY), the river becomes an “E coli infested, open swerve canal terminating at the beach”.

“Grey and black water from night-buckets, washing, etc. is consistently decanted into the sides of township roads. This polluted water now runs from the upper sections of Dontse Yakhe (DY) via the newly-constructed road down into the existing Hughenden stormwater system, and out into the river,” she said at the time.

Mr Quintas said the City has been made aware of the need to completely upgrade water infrastructure in Hout Bay.

He explained that the current infrastructure is “aged”, and that there was difficulty managing water pressure to reach higher lying properties.

“This became apparent after we returned to normal post-Day Zero, when all homes had deduced water pressure as a way of mitigating drought water scarcity. Since return to normal, a year and a half ago, the demand for increased water pressure has meant that fluctuations in pressure have caused ailing infrastructure to leak or burst,” he said.

He added that the City had committed to a complete overhaul of water infrastructure in Hout Bay area, starting this financial year and continuing over the next two to three years, until the scope of the work is complete.