Businesses urged to stop drain dumping

MATTHEW HIRSCH

The City of Cape Town has appealed to businesses to stop dumping fat down the drains as this is causing a problem for the sewerage system.

Earlier this month some residents were invited to join City officials to inspect the sewer outfalls at Camps Bay and in Mouille Point. This came after a picture of Three Anchor Bay, appearing to show water pollution, went viral last year.

Luke Watson, of the Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (GPRA), was among the residents who went on the inspection.

He said the City is assessing whether it is adequately dispersing waste despite the increase in volume beyond the allowable and licensed level.

“No results are available yet. Nevertheless, the City’s environmental department is of the opinion that polluted water at Three Anchor Bay comes from the stormwater outfall at the beach.

“Stormwater pipes discharge directly at the high water mark all along our coastline.

“It is therefore important to keep stormwater as free from pollutants as possible; this protects marine life in the sensitive intertidal area, safeguards the health of water users and enhances the amenity of our beachfront.

“Probably through ignorance, businesses often dispose of grease, in the easiest way possible: they pour it down basins where it enters the sewerage system.

“The fats clog up the sewer pipes causing them to overflow and run into the street; from the street it drains into the stormwater system, discharging sewage straight onto the beach.”

Mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said the City monitors bathing beaches at least fortnightly in line with the national regulations.

“Certain beaches are tested more frequently, however. In addition to the above frequency, all of the Blue Flag beaches are exposed to additional monitoring under the international Blue Flag criteria,” he said.

Mr Sonnenberg added that water quality at all bathing beaches on the Atlantic Seaboard had been found to be within acceptable levels.

“The biggest impact residents could have on minimising human pollution in our inshore environment is to ensure that they reduce all forms of waste that they allow into the environment,” he said.

Ward councillor Jacques Weber added: “The appeal is to all businesses such as restaurants to ensure that they have the necessary equipment in place to deal with food wastage such as fats and oils and the removal of such products.

“Often we find that they are dumping such items into the stormwater system – street drainage.”

The Water and Sanitation Department responds to complaints of sewer blockages and spillages and as many as 300 to 400 such callouts are attended to city-wide on a daily basis.

During 2013/14, the cost of dealing with the blockages in the city was R380 million, and 72 percent of these were caused by negligent and willful dumping of inappropriate objects into the sewer network.

The City of Cape Town said that quick reporting of sewage overflows is also important, and residents can do this by contacting the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089, or by sending an SMS to 31373 for water-related faults.