Stench from pump station irks resident

Dave Mills said at the time he could feel the earth moving during the construction next to his property and was convinced his house would cave in at any point.

A Sanddrift man has been fighting a lone crusade against the City of Cape Town for the past 10 years over his neighbour – a stinky sewage pump station.

Dave Mills, 71, bought his Fortuna Road home some 30 years ago, but for a third of that time he has been living next to the pump station, and, he says, it has not been pleasant.

He can’t sit in his backyard or have people over because of the embarrassing stench coming from next door, he says.

“When the wind blows, it becomes unbearable. Every day, I have to deal with the smell of the whole neighbourhood’s sewage blowing in my property.

I have had friends come over, and we will often sit in the backyard, but we are always forced to move back inside because of the fumes. I am at my wits’ end right now because I feel like I have exhausted all avenues,” he said.

The smell was worse since the pump station had been upgraded two or three years ago, he said.

He accused the City of not maintaining the facility adequately.

The pump station is about 5m away from Mr Mills’s home, and he fears it has lowered the value of his property.“Can the council do this? Is this even legal? I don’t even know if a public-participation procedure was done. Over the years, I’ve been promised that whatever operations the council carries out next door, I would not be affected, and I have been promised that existing problems would be sorted out.”

Adding to Mr Mills’s woes is the unkempt grass and wooden shack-like structure on the pump station site.

“I often find papers and other pieces of rubbish. They fly into my yard because no one seems to take care of the place,” he said.

According to the City’s valuation roll, the pump station is on City-owned, non-residential land.

Tabletalk sent detailed questions to the City of Cape Town on Wednesday March 20, outlining Mr Mills’s concerns.

Two days later, we received a two-sentence response from mayoral committee member for water and waste services, Xanthea Limberg: “New wet-well covers will be fitted at the Sanddrift pump station to address and eliminate the concerns around the smell. The grass inside the premises will be cut and arrangements are under way to remove the wooden guard house that is on the premises.”

Questions about when the pump station was built; when and how it was upgraded; possible health implications for Mr Mills, and the possibility of moving the facility went unanswered.