City actions plan to get our sewer network ready for winter

09 May 2022 in Where We Govern

Throughout the year, the City’s Water and Sanitation Directorate maintains an extensive sewer network of pipeline and pump stations that conveys sewage from properties to the wastewater treatment works. In gearing up for winter, the team has ramped up its efforts to proactively maintain and clear blockages caused by foreign items that should not be in the network, with a focus on hot spot areas. This is to ensure that this critical infrastructure, which includes just under 10 000km of sewer pipeline, can accommodate the increased flow of rainwater that enters the network during wet months and help reduce the overflows and impact on communities.

Extensive proactive work already under way in various areas across the city includes:

  • Cleaning main sewer pipelines using jetting machines weekly
  • Cleaning sand and litter traps/ booms, ponds, canals and culverts and monitoring them for additional cleaning where needed to avoid blockages that could lead to flooding.
  • Cleaning pump station sumps and wet wells
  • Monitoring telemetry alarm systems at pump stations
  • Repairing collapsed sewers in the shortest timeframe possible when needed
  • Replacing broken, stolen or damaged manhole covers regularly
  • Replacing electrical/mechanical components on critical pump stations
  • Inspecting illegal stormwater to sewer connections at properties
  • Ongoing public awareness education through the Bin it, Don’t Block it campaign. This informs residents about getting rid of waste properly, and not to dump illegally or flush and pour items down sinks and drains that can cause blockages in the network.

‘For the past few months, our Water and Sanitation teams have been out and about proactively maintaining and clearing the sewer network in different areas in addition to the existing day-to-day reactive operations. This is because preparing our sewer network to navigate the rainy days starts in summer, not winter.

‘Typically there is a trend that sees an increase in sewer overflows in winter because of the combined impact of various factors.

‘Generally, the sewer system is already dealing with foreign items that are flushed, poured down sinks and drains which cause blockages and overflows. During heavy rain, overflows increase because illegal dumping of debris, sand, rubble, etc also wash into the sewer network system, via open manholes where covers have been stolen or damaged. Coupled with this, more rainwater enters via these open manholes and from illegal stormwater-to-sewer cross-connections on your properties, where water is channelled from roofs, gutters, and paved or hard yard surface areas into sewer drains. All these factors contribute to blockages or reduces the capacity of the pipes to convey wastewater, and damage infrastructure like pump stations, resulting in overflows and flooding.

‘As a City, while we are doing our part to prepare the sewer system, which services residents as much as possible, for winter as much as possible, we are calling on residents to join in on the action to help us from their side by being mindful of what is being flushed, poured down drains and sinks and how they dispose of their waste.

‘Residents are also encouraged to report missing, stolen or damaged manhole covers as well as illegal dumping and refrain from channeling (along gutters etc.) any storm water into sewers on their properties. Let’s work together to help reduce overflows on our streets this winter,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation Councillor, Zahid Badroodien.

Residents can help prevent sewer blockages and overflows
Generally, (avoidable) blockages remain the primary cause of sewer overflows:

  • Residents are reminded that they can help prevent such sewer blockages and overflows by disposing of unwanted materials using the appropriate solid waste collections and disposal services.
  • Only human waste, toilet paper and grey water should be disposed via sinks and toilets in homes and communities. It is illegal for residents to place any another materials into the system because it causes overflows due to blockages.

Some tips for residents:

  • Put a strainer in the sink to catch food or other waste before it goes down the drain and creates blockages.
  • Wipe cooking fats, oil or grease off the pan, and don’t pour it down the drain.
  • Don’t flush nappies and sanitary products, they absorb water and expand, which causes blockages.
  • Check that rainwater gutters don’t flow into the sewer system, as it overloads.
  • Visit the City’s drop-off facilities to dispose of recyclables, electronics, garage waste and builder’s rubble

Log service requests

Report vandalism damages, sewer blockages, missing drain covers, burst pipes, leaks and water wastage using one of the following channels (Please provide the street address, and get a reference number):