Sewerage crisis looms over central Cape Town
Booming development in the central city is set to cause the stressed sewerage infrastructure to collapse if plans to deal with the impending crisis aren't implemented.

The central city is expected to have about 2 000 new housing units by the end of next year, and the N2 Gateway Project will deliver about 4 000 units in District Six. Another major housing development is planned for Culemborg.

Vela VKE, the company that compiled the report earlier this year for the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), has already handed over its report on the state of the sewerage system to the city council.


The report says that in the central city "the lack of enforcement of regulations to control grease traps and limit stormwater inflow has resulted in operational problems resulting in blockages, sewerage smells, overflows and building flooding".

"The impact of the proposed developments of the new central city residences, Culemborg and District Six on the sewerage system must be hydraulically analysed to identify capacity constraints so that system improvements can be planned and implemented timeously," the report states.

It also says the city needs to schedule structural repairs, rehabilitation and replacements because the sewerage pipes are up to a 100 years old.

Dereck Bock, the chief operations officer for the CCID, said: "The bottom line is that urgent upgrading needs to take place very soon or else council will have to foot a much higher repair bill.

"We have already had complaints from property management companies that raw sewage is being pushed out of the manholes in the basements of their buildings."

The city's water services director, Sipho Mosai, said they were examining the report to determine the implications.

"We welcomed the (report's) suggestions... (and) are going to form partnerships... (to deal) with these challenges. We are talking to the private sector... because we want to remain open minded," said Mosai.

Concerns raised in the report, include:

  • The spigot and socket joints of the adjoining clay sewerage pipes have deteriorated, which could lead to major groundwater infiltration, major exfiltration, blockages, root infestation and eventually pipe collapse.
  • The sewer pipes were last inspected 15 years ago.
  • The inflow of stormwater, roots and silt could block the pipes causing sewage overflow.

Article by: Bulelani Phillip -