Sewage pipeline a ‘ticking time bomb’

2015-10-07 06:00


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TO help defuse the “ticking time bomb” of the sewage pipeline between Markman and the Fishwater Flats sewerage works, a new sewage pipeline of R30 million is being planned.

“The existing sewer pipeline, which stretches over the Swartkops River, is very old. This is a ticking time bomb that we must defuse as soon as possible,” Gerrie van der Merwe, AfriCoast Consulting Engineers project manager, said in an interview.

According to Van der Merwe, the existing sewer infrastructure is under tremendous pressure to serve the extensive community of Markman. These effects are already seen at other sewage pipes in the area, also stretching over the Swartkops River, where leaks pose ecological and health risks to the river and surrounding communities, according to Van der Merwe.

The existing pipeline can handle only 680 litres of sewage per second. The new pipeline’s diameter is larger (1 000mm) and will be able to handle the peak flow of 1100 litres per second.

“The planned infrastructure will improve the flow of sewage, and ensure a long life and sustainability of the system for many decades.”

But regular maintenance is the key to sustainability, added Van der Merwe. Precisely for this reason Phase 2 of this project involves upgrading of the existing infrastructure.

“The existing pipeline should be repaired so that this system can be in use when maintenance work is being done on the new pipeline,” Van der Merwe explained.

Construction of the new infrastructure will not, like the existing pipelines, run over the Swartkops River Estuary wetlands area, but rather along the N2 to the sewage works.

This is owing to pressure from environmental activists such as Jenny Rump, environment officer of the Zwartkops Conservancy, during the project’s planning phase.

“From the first day of the project, we made it clear that we could not afford any further risk of sewage spills into the Swartkops River.

“The river’s sewage pollution already negatively affected the survival of fish and bird species in the estuary area.

“To allow yet another pipeline in the area would simply not have made sense from an environmental perspective, therefore we insisted an alternate route for the sewers,” Rump explained.

Another matter of concern for Rump is the quality of the new pipes.

This stems from the past year’s sewage spillages caused by a broken sewerage pipe in Motherwell, which Rump attributes to the pipe being of poor quality.

According to Van der Merwe, the quality of the pipes will again be looked at, but he also added that external factors such as the compactness of the soil around the pipe play a major role in the sustainability of the system.

“The quality of the pipes is being re-examined, but I can assure you that the construction of the pipeline will be of top quality, which will ensure the sustainability.”

* Following an expected approved environmental impact assessment, the estimated 18 months’ construction will start next year in March, creating about 25 jobs.

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