Drain causes a stink

2018-10-16 06:02
This drain outside a Heinz Park church has been bubbling and overflowing for a decade, residents claim. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

This drain outside a Heinz Park church has been bubbling and overflowing for a decade, residents claim. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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Stagnant pools of sewer water, as a result of constant bubbling from a manhole in Heinz Park, have been causing a stink for residents and parishioners who frequent the Pentecostal Church of Christ SA in Goodhope Street.

The church has been situated here for the past 10 years with the problem becoming increasingly worse for the past six years.

“Children are playing in this sewage and animals are eating and drinking from the pools. The smell is bad and there are days when there is faeces floating in the water. We then have to forget our pride and clean it ourselves because we cannot allow that,” says church elder, Abie Libbe.

Church Pastor Derreck Holloway says: “We have to chase the children away because they are playing here. They don’t understand it. The water also pools and runs down to the open field where the children practise soccer.”

The constant sewage creates an unsanitary environment and unpleasant smell. One that has resulted in decreased visitors to the church and its programmes.

“We run a seniors’ club at the church every Wednesday and it is open to the public. We feel so bad sometimes because visitors come and we have to excuse ourselves. We can’t take it anymore. We have signed a petition and have called the City of Cape Town on several occasions. This is a daily problem,” says Holloway.

He says officials do clean the area and unblock the drains.

“They clean it, but because of where it is situated, it returns,” says Holloway. “They need to remove this drain.”

When People’s Post visited the church, the water was bubbling and pooling along the pavements. This, a day after it had been cleaned and unclogged, Holloway says.

“This drain is in the middle of the house of the Lord and we cannot take it anymore,” he says. “It is at its worst on a hot day. We are following the rules. We report it and we are not blaming them because they do clean but we need a permanent solution. We want them to close this drain.”

Holloway says at one stage cars could not get into the church as a result of flooding.

“We moved to Heinz Park because we felt we were needed here. We want to help the youth and residents to know the Lord,” he says.

“People are being chased away from the house of the Lord because of this. It is also a major health risk to residents and animals.”

Gertruida Krotz, a resident who has been living there for 20 years says it was not always a problem.

“There are old people and sick people and babies here and there are people getting sick because of this,” she says. “This is how it looks every day and our toilets are also constantly getting blocked and overflowing.”

She says her relative has also gotten sick with TB on several occasions. “Something must be done,” she says.

Mayco member (South) Eddie Andrews says: “The exposure to untreated sewage poses a health risk as it contains waterborne pathogens such as bacteria and viruses that can cause illness. Epidemiological studies have identified a clear link between exposure to faecal pathogens and the incidence of diarrhoea, especially for children under five years who are particularly vulnerable­.”

The constant exposure to sewage could also result in E.coli contamination.

Escherichia coli (E.coli), a particular species within the group of faecal coliform organisms, is commonly used as an indicator of faecal pollution. E.coli is specific to the intestinal tracts of humans and warm-blooded animals. High levels within watercourses (>1000 counts/100ml) indicate compromised water quality and a higher risk to human health. When this happens, contact with the water is discouraged.

Large quantities of E. coli would similarly have a negative impact on indigenous fauna and flora, for example, nutrient enrichment, oxygen depletion and disease. More specifically, the increased presence of biodegradable organic matter such as sewage provides nutrients (i.e. nitrates and phosphates) that encourage the growth of bacteria and micro-organisms (eutrophication) which deplete the oxygen levels in water (causing anaerobic conditions).

E. coli refers to a wide range of bacteria that can cause various diseases, including pneumonia, urinary tract infection and diarrhoea­.

“The period from November to May is dubbed diarrhoea surge season as it coincides with an increase in the number of diarrhoea and pneumonia cases because of the warmer weather which assists the spread of germs,” says Andrews­.

“In Cape Town, the number of diarrhoea deaths in children younger than five has decreased from 170 deaths in 2009/10 to 42 in 2017/18. This is due to a number of interventions implemented as part of the diarrhoea prevention programme. Cases are spread across the City.”

Holloway says they want to continue their work, but need concrete answers and solutions to the problem.

“We have been a haven to so many in the area and we have helped many come away from crime. We want to do more but this problem is very bad. Bad enough that we will do something about it if something is not done. We want them to close this completely,” he says.

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