Residents fear power-cut threat to sewers overhaul

City officials visited the site of the Milnerton bulk sewer upgrade in Montague Gardens on Tuesday April 18. Water and sanitation mayoral committee member Dr Zahid Badroodien and ward councillor Anthony Benadie were also on site.

Residents across greater Milnerton fear load shedding will hamper multimillion-rand upgrades to sewerage infrastructure in the area.

The City announced last week that phase one of the Milnerton bulk sewer upgrade, which started at the beginning of March, should be complete by February 1, 2025. It will see the construction of a new bulk sewer and sand trap and screening facility in Montague Gardens to increase the capacity and reliability of the bulk sewer system. The developments include:

  • Micro-tunnelling of a new 3.8km-long Montague Gardens bulk sewer, with a 970mm diameter, around the eastern and northern boundaries of the Montague Gardens industrial area.
  • Micro-tunnelling of a new 300m-long bulk outfall sewer of 1 350mm diameter at the Koeberg Road pump station to accommodate the combined flow of the existing Montague Drive bulk sewer and the new Montague Gardens bulk sewer.
  • The construction of a new sand trap and screening facility at the Koeberg Road pump station.
  • Extending and diversion of the existing 700mm diameter Edgemead bulk sewer and 450mm diameter Century City bulk sewer into the new infrastructure.

Phase two will see the rehabilitation of the existing 4km-long, 700mm to 975mm Montague Drive bulk sewer and the diversion of the Century City bulk sewer back into the rehabilitated Montague Drive bulk sewer.

According to mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Zahid Badroodien, the project will cost R474 million.

A 2015 site visit to Milnerton and Blaauwberg found the structural condition of the Montague Drive bulk sewer had deteriorated significantly due to sulphuric acid corrosion, he said.

“Due to its location, under the Montague Drive roadway, means that a sewer collapse on this pipeline could be fatal for motorists and can create substantial interruption to traffic flow in Montague Gardens.

“As a result, the Montague Drive bulk sewer was earmarked as one of the critical sewers for upgrading and rehabilitation.

“The installation of a sand trap and screening facility at the Koeberg Road pump station will improve the operation of the bulk sewer system by improving the pump station’s performance and reducing pump breakages caused by foreign objects entering the pump station sump.”

Tiffany Hahn, a Milnerton resident, applauded the City for doing the work, but said she feared the project would be threatened by power cuts, which had already crippled several sewage pump stations across Cape Town.

“I fear that the City will do these upgrades for so much money but will end up paying way more than expected because there will be delays because of power cuts,” she said.

Earlier this month, there was a sewage spill in a Summer Greens park after load shedding crippled a nearby pump station (“Summer Greens fumes over park sewage spill,” Tabletalk, April 5).

Summer Greens Ratepayers’ Association chairwoman Bridgette Lloyd, said: “The load shedding affects our pump station near Emerald Park in a bad way because there is no back-up system that kicks in and allows the pump station to continue to pump and flow. This then causes some of the sewage spills in the community.”

However, she added, that residents were also to blame for flushing nappies, sanitary pads and other things that didn’t belong in the sewers down their toilet pipes. “All these things clog up the system and cause these spills. People need to be educated on this so that we can work together to avoid these sewage spills,” she said.

Dr Badroodien said the City would be spending R32 million in the new financial year to buy generators for sewage pump stations.

Greater Table View Action Forum vice chairwoman Jeanine Groenewald blamed rampant development in Milnerton and Table View for straining the sewerage system.

“These sewer systems were not designed to handle such a large volume of waste. Residents have complained about sewage spills and blockages in the area, which have resulted in unpleasant odours and health hazards. Environmental groups have also expressed concerns about the impact of sewage spills on the local ecosystem, including the nearby Milnerton Lagoon. We are glad to finally see that phase one is being implemented and Dr Badroodien is back at the department for water and sanitation,” she said.

The Montague Drive bulk sewer upgrade is independent of the R5 billion Potsdam sewage plant upgrade project (“Path cleared for sewage plant upgrade,” Tabletalk, March 8).

Ward councillor Anthony Benadie said: “The Potsdam project will go a long way in stopping the spills and pollution of the Rietvlei. So too, the City will soon install a permanent generator at the Racecourse pump station to mitigate against load shedding. Many residents don’t realise the massive impact of load shedding on pump stations. They simply were not designed to handle this kind of electricity situation.”

A sewage spill in a Summer Greens park caused by load shedding.
Sewage spills have become all too common in the Milnerton area and residents want permanent solutions.