Table View still plagued by sludge stench

Table View residents say they still can’t open their windows and doors because of stench from the Potsdam sewage plant.

Table View residents are fuming over having to endure a stench from a sewage plant for more than six weeks.

The smell, caused by a build-up of sludge at the Potsdam Wastewater Treatment Works, has hung over the neighbourhood since the beginning of the year, and residents say they have to keep their windows and doors closed all the time.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste, said the sludge had built up because the contract for its removal had expired on New Year’s Eve without another contractor being appointed due to a dispute over the issuing of a new tender.

When work started to remove the sludge, on Thursday January 28, Ms Limberg said the job could take one to two weeks, depending on rainfall. The removal is now in its third week, but residents say the stench is still there.

Table View resident Philippe Roche said it was just one of several problems plaguing the area, including daily pipe bursts and sewage flowing in the streets.

“We cannot deal with the smell of sewage daily since January 1. The City and the Potsdam plant are clearly not able to deal with the additional 10 to 13 megalitres of additional sewage and grey water and effluent pounding them daily. The Potsdam plant will explode soon and we need help,” he said.

Priscilla Ewert, of Table View, questioned why there was still a smell.

“This is now going on two months. I have permanent nausea, and, no, I’m not pregnant, I’m 53. It has been more than a week that it was meant to have been done. How long does it take to move it? It really has been hell living with it so forgive me if I am a little impatient.”

Odour suppressants have been used to try to mask the smell, and Ms Limberg said the City sincerely regretted the discomfort the situation had caused.

All the sludge that could be loaded onto trucks had been removed from Thursday January 28 to Wednesday February 3, she said.

“During those six days, over 1000 tons of sludge cake was removed from the sludge pond stockpile, and this included all stockpiled primary sludge cake,” she said.

“All the water contained in the sludge cake stockpile moved to the bottom of the pond over time, and therefore the remaining sludge in the pond was too wet to be removed by truck immediately.

“Further processing was required to ensure that the sludge is sufficiently dry to be transported by truck. This process is time-consuming and does release odour, which is contributing to the ongoing odour around the plant.”

Odour suppression efforts had continued throughout the removal operation, she said.

Residents can report the smell and other water-related issues by SMS to 31373. Or call 0860 103 089, email water@capetown.gov.za or visit the City’s website.