‘Whack-a-mole’ water woes plague Hout Bay

A pipe blockage caused raw sewage to flood newly resurfaced roads in Imizamo Yethu.

There has been a series of municipal water-pipe bursts in Hout Bay and a sewage spill in Imizamo Yethu that residents there fear could lead to their newly repaired roads being dug up.

Edward Simpson, from Valley Road, says the same pipe has burst repeatedly in the road in the space of a week.

“When the pipe burst happens, we first have to watch all this water flow away and then try and get hold of council to come out, who then switches off our water, fixes the pipes and leaves. Moments later, the other end of the pipe will burst, and the same process must be followed.

“It’s like a game of whack-a-mole,” he said, laughing through the creases of frustration on his face. “You fix here and the water pops up elsewhere. They go there, fix that and, boom, it pops up sometimes at the same place they just fixed.”

In Imizamo Yethu last week, a blocked drain led to raw sewage flooding the newly resurfaced Ngoyi and Tambo roads. Residents fear problems with the sewer pipes could see the roads being dug up just after they have been fixed (“End in sight for roadworks,” Sentinel News, February 4, 2022).

“We have been waiting for these new roads, but at the same time, we have been speaking about the problems that this sewerage system is going to cause,” said taxi driver Robert Mugede.

“Why fix on top when you know below is a problem and will only undo all the work on the top?

“I want to be wrong about this, but, as you can see, it’s already happening, and we have roads flooded. In a few weeks time, these new roads will also be flooded, and the council will have to dig them up again to fix them. Same old, same old.”

IY community leader Kenny Tokwe said: “It’s very exciting to have these new roads, but there are problems deeper than just the way the roads look.”

The community also shouldered blame for dumping “all sorts of things” in the sewerage system, he said.

“We are causing our own problems in a way. We have to educate and get people to understand that messing up the sewerage even further will mean that our roads will be messed up too.”

Meanwhile, a video on Facebook showing pipe bursts in two sections of Valley Road drew several comments from residents expressing their frustration.

Ward councillor and mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas said the City had planned to replace sections of pipe plagued by frequent bursts and install pressure-release valve networks, sometime from July in the new financial year, but City engineers now wanted to bring that work forward, and they aimed to tackle the problem Valley Road line in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the City is to begin zero-pressure tests on the main water supply to Hout Bay, which will disrupt the water supply from 9am on Friday February 11 to 4am on Saturday February 12.

Zero-pressure testing is part of the installation process for pressure management technology. Tests are done to see if there are any unmapped inflows that need to be taken into account before smart pressure-reducing valves are installed.

Mayoral committee member for water Zahid Badroodien, urged residents to store water in clean, sealed containers for use and keep taps closed to avoid water loss and damage when the supply is restored.

Managing water pressure more effectively reduces the possibility of pipe bursts and water wastage, he said.

Imizamo Yethu residents tried to stem the flow of sewage by placing this bucket with a rock on top over the drain.