This afternoon was one of those great ones where lunch at The Chartroom and a Fanta Brown on the deck was called for. But, this was not to be as I smelt a distinctly crappy smell coming from the harbour upon my arrival at the Yacht Club.
Asking at the office I was informed that the smell had been wafting through PEDSAC, NSRI, the yacht club and beyond on and off since Thursday last week. Many complaints to Transnet had only resulted in frustration. Admittedly, even though Transnet have been accused of crappy treatment of the environment in the past I will readily admit that they are not the Managers or Directors of Sewage in the Metro.
A few emails to our infamous Metro Communications Department still remain unanswered – not that I expected them to actually do so!
So, I decided to follow my nose which led me to the storm water outlet close to PEDSAC only to witness a soupy morass with toilet paper and other stuff cascading into the harbour. A quick walk up the storm water line showed a broken inspection cover outside the harbour precincts. Thinking that this could be the source of the problem I exited the harbour security control and drove along the railway lines back towards Kings Beach. Before I got there though, I noticed a pump running outside the sewage pump station and stopped to enquire.
Apparently both submersible pumps for the pump station had blown last week and Enviro-Tech were manning a mobile pump to keep the crap flowing as it were. This pump station services the Humewood and South End area so, if you are in that area please try and hold it in for a bit. The lead time on when the pumps will be repaired is a bit open ended unfortunately.
Now this is where it gets a bit, shall we say; “Murky?”.
What happens at the pump station is that the submersible pumps are at the bottom of a holding tank and pump merrily away until there is a problem. When a problem occurs the sewage level rises up to a specific outflow point. Now, we cannot have sewage running back up the line and popping manhole covers open in the middle of the streets so when the backed up sewage reaches a critical overflow height – as a result of pumps failing or a major crappy event – it is allowed to flow into the nearest available stormwater drain. This particular pump station’s stormwater overflow drain exits directly into the harbour via an outfall close to PEDSAC.
One can only surmise that the temporary pump has failed/run out of diesel/needed a service a couple of times as the tenants in the western area of the harbour have been complaining to Transnet since Thursday last week.
Apparently the last time there was a major problem at this pump station was 17 years ago and the then Commodore of the Yacht Club was so incensed at the crap floating in the harbour that he asked the SAPS to arrest the engineer on site. During that incident the stormwater overflow ran for three days.
I was told on site that the Municipal by-laws allow for the discharge of sewage into the stormwater system under certain circumstances AND this is where I admit defeat as I, for the life of me, cannot find the specific by-law that states this as true. It must be (have been) true in the days when the system was built, though. One would think that in the ‘heightened environmental sensitivity age’ that we now found ourselves that the rules would have changed, though.
I cannot find any such notation in the NELSON MANDELA BAY METROPOLITAN MUNICIPALITY STORMWATER MANAGEMENT BY-LAWS or any of the Water and Sanitation by-laws.
If our exalted Metro Communications department does clarify the matter then I shall post an update here.
In the meantime COULD some clever person please find the details for us of the municipal by-law (escape clause?) that allows sewage to run unchecked into the sea?