R10bn for water, sanitation network – City

People have been seen swimming in polluted water at the lagoon near the Lagoon Beach Hotel in the past week.

The City will spend more than R10 billion of its R29 billion capital expenditure plan over the next three years on water-and-sanitation infrastructure, says mayoral committee member for water Dr Zahid Badroodien.

And R1.6 billion will be specifically for conveying sewage.

Earlier this month, a sewage spill into the Diep River affected the Woodbridge Island area. Dr Badroodien said City staff were still trying to identify the source of the spill.

A sewage spill into the Diep River earlier this month affected the Woodbridge Island area.

Dr Badroodien told Tabletalk that by the time he had arrived at the site, on January 2, the rising tide had obscured evidence of the sewage spill.

“The pump stations in the area were also assessed to ensure that they were in working condition – they all were. The City’s water-pollution team were also present to take the necessary water samples,” he said.

Caroline Marx, head of the environmental portfolio of the Milnerton Central Ratepayers’ Association (MCRA), said she was encouraged by Dr Badroodien’s efforts.

“While there is a definite attitude change, this needs to translate into action and improved results. The new mayor remains very determined to resolve the issues, but undoing years of mismanagement is not quick or easy. Adhering to the timelines in the City’s action plan to fix the problems would be a convincing start, unfortunately, that hasn’t happened as yet either,” she said.

However, Dr Badroodien’s swift response to the situation at Woodbridge Island did not impress Joe Slovo resident Andile Keteyi who said his neighbourhood had gone weeks without refuse removal during December. The municipality should treat everyone equally, he said.

“I am not angry that the City acted fast when they went to the island. In fact, we expect that level of service. What I hate is that when we have similar issues, they are never solved in a day or no one responds to us immediately.

“Over the past few weeks, since around the middle of December, we have had piles of rubbish on many street corners. Some streets like, Imfeni Crescent, are completely blocked with rubbish.”

He conceded that Joe Slovo residents who dumped their rubbish in the streets also carried blame but said the City should show more commitment to the residents and lead by example.

Joe Slovo community leader Sibongile Kofi said children played in the streets choked with rubbish.

“People have to keep their doors closed in this summer heat because they want to keep flies out of their houses,” he said. “People can’t even sit on their stoeps because of the smell, and there is a major rodent problem. There are rats at these dump sites, and they go into people’s houses infecting their food with whatever diseases they carry. This is unacceptable. We just want to be respected just like everyone else.”

Mayoral committee member for urban waste management Grant Twigg said that despite a problem with dumping in Joe Slovo, City sanitation workers were collecting garbage there according to schedule.

“The City has been collecting waste in the Joe Slovo area as per the schedule in December,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the past week, children and adults have been seen swimming at the lagoon near the Lagoon Beach Hotel, just metres from a yellow sign warning that the water is polluted and not fit for swimming, playing or drinking.

Ms Marx said tests on the water had shown pollution levels sometimes thousands of times higher than what was considered acceptable for swimming.

“Stomach upsets and infected cuts are the most common, but there is also a risk of more severe diseases like hepatitis. Publishing the City’s water test results would allow people to make informed choices. Why isn’t that happening? Those tests are paid for with rates and taxes, what right do City officials have to withhold that information?”

Patricia van der Ross, mayoral community member for services and health, said the City had noted a request for the signage to be made more visible.

Dr Badroodien said the City’s water strategy prioritised improving the health of Cape Town’s water bodies to transform the city into a “water sensitive city” by 2040.

“While eliminating sewer overflows is still largely dependent on residents using sewers correctly, the City recognises the serious risks sewer overflows pose to health and the impact they have on the dignity of community, and is reprioritising resources from other areas to address this more proactively,” he said.

Imfeni Crescent in Joe Slovo is notorious for always being filled with rubbish.