Darvill stench ‘enough to make you want to gag’

2010-03-29 00:00

THE putrid stench wafting from the Darvill Sewage Treatment Works to the homes of nearby residents is putting people’s noses out of joint.

An ongoing problem for a number of years, it has worsened in the past month and those residing in Hayfields have been hardest hit.

In an advert in Saturday’s Weekend Witness , Umgeni Water acknowledged the problem, which it said was caused by power outages that meant sewage could not be treated. It was diverted to a storm dam, where it turned septic, causing the smell. The water utility said it is working on the problem, and appealed to residents to “bear with us.”

“It’s enough to make you want to gag. Friends from as far as Bellevue can smell it and Lincoln Meade residents have also complained about it,” said an affected resident.

Residents say they are concerned about the long-term effects on their health.

“I can’t even imagine a long-drop toilet smelling worse. We can’t open windows and if we use our air conditioners, the smell comes through them. It’s an absolute nightmare and our chests burn when we breathe in. This is a major health hazard,” complained a resident.

Despite the problem being a sporadic one, residents say when it does return, the smell is stronger than before. The only consolation is that the smell subsides as the day wears on, residents said.

“My husband has emphysema, my neighbour suffers from total renal failure, which requires dialysis three times a week, my four-year-old grandson, who lives down the road, has asthma — and on top of that they have to suffer this,” complained a resident.

Ward councillor Sandy Lyne said the stench is an ongoing problem. She said the poorly maintained sewerage pipes have trouble coping with waste and water after heavy downpours and depending on the day and wind direction, nearby residents are affected by the build-up.

Lyne said people who illegally connect their storm water drains to the system are making the situation worse.

She said the situation has deteriorated because of poor maintenance of sewers and storm water drains, a lack of municipal control of illegal connections, a lack of capacity from people at the sewerage works and poor overall control on the municipality’s part.

In February 2008, The Witness quoted river scientist and environmental consultant Dr Mark Graham as saying: “Storm water drains and sewers become blocked because communities use them as rubbish dumps. Many sewers are broken and need repair. Damaged pipes can obviously let raw sewage out and storm water in.”

Dr Graham said unscrupulous property developers and residents also illegally discharge storm water into sewers, and rain storms make the situation worse.

“Under extreme conditions, the Darvill sewage works cannot cope with the volumes of storm water that finds its way into the sewers... What happens when there is a storm is like expecting the R103 to carry the traffic that uses the N3 during peak holiday season,” he said.

At the time, former deputy municipal manager for infrastructure services, Phil Mashoko, said the municipality had embarked on a project that will ensure the replacement and upgrading of all old sewer pipes.

The Msunduzi Municipality failed to respond by the time of going to print.

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