PMB river system threatened spent on the maintenance of sewer system spent to deal with sewer blockages R500 000

2015-12-09 06:00
PHOTO: file The Baynespruit River near Sobantu has high E. coli levels.

PHOTO: file The Baynespruit River near Sobantu has high E. coli levels.

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ILLEGAL storm water and sewer connections could result in Pietermaritzburg’s sewer system collapsing and polluting the city’s river system.

The Msunduzi Municipality highlighted that most of the illegal storm water and sewer connections occur in the Mountain Rise area.

Msunduzi spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the municipality will conduct smoke detection tests to determine the number of houses that have down pipes connected to gullies.

“The rest of the areas that have illegal sewer connections will be known after the completion of reduction and monitoring of storm water infiltration project,” said Madonda.

Illegal storm water and sewer connections cause internal blockages and put pressure on the poor sewer system.

Madonda said the municipality has not brought anyone to justice for these illegal connections.

She said every time the municipality discovers illegal connections the owner of the property is issued a R 1000 fine. She said businesses and residents who repeatedly conduct illegal connections get fined again. However, she could not say how many people and businesses have received fines.

Madonda said the municipality spends about R500 000 annually to deal with sewer blockages and that R1 million is spent annually on the maintenance of the sewer system. The municipality is installing flow monitoring machines in municipal sewers to see the storm water infiltration trend against the received rainfall. She said that eight of these machines were bought in June.

The general trend, which the Msunduzi Municipality noted over the years, has been that during storms or heavy rainfall seasons, water causes sewer manhole lids to be pushed up causing untreated sewage spilling onto roads, over properties and then invariably back into storm water drains which lead to streams and rivers.

The municipality has pointed fingers on its ageing infrastructure, and lately on illegal storm water and sewer connections.

The September 2015 report from the municipality’s infrastructure services portfolio committee shows that during that month there were 27 complaints about blocked storm water pipes in Crocus Road, Munireddy Road, Alan Paton Avenue, Banyan Crescent, Church Street, Salter Place, Walnut Road, Havelock Road, Naidoo Road, Adams Road, Bernard Road, Lotus, Baijoo Road, Pineview Place, Marwick Road, Poinsettia Road, Queen Palm Place, Corvette Place, Lazarus Drive, Thorngate Road, Peach Road, Town Bush Road and Ishwari Road.

In February council tabled a report which showed that R1 billion was needed to repair the poor water infrastructure.

For years council had been inundated with reports which proved that asbestos cement pipes are a problem as these broken cement asbestos pipes and dislodged joints cause sewer blockages which impact on the Msunduzi River system.

The September report from infrastructure services states that in the 2015/2016 financial year the municipality recorded 820 mainline blockages in 91 days which roughly equals up to 10 mainline blockages per day. The report also showed projected mainline for the remainder of the financial year at 3650. The report also records that there were 1647 mainline blockages in the 2007/2008 financial year, 1775 in 2008/ 2009, 1916 blockages in 2009/ 2010, 2262 in 2010/ 2011, 2499 in 2011/ 2012, 2853 in 2012/ 2013, 3243 in 2013/ 2014 and 3660 in 2014/ 2016 financial year.

This has had a negative effect on one of the rivers in Pietermaritzburg. The Baynespruit River which cuts through Sobantu, Eastwood, the Mountain Rise industrial areas, Cinderella Park and Madiba Park has had high levels of E. coli. E. coli readings for October 2011 showed readings of between 600 000 E. coli per 100 ml and 1 000 000 E. coli per 100ml.

It is unknown when the municipality will start to use smoke detection tests.

Municipality points fingers on its ageing infrastructure and on illegal storm water and sewer connections

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