City to smoke out sewer spills near Valyland

A substance flowing from the back of the Valyland centre seems to be oil.

The City of Cape Town is planning sewer smoke-testing and a CCTV camera survey of the sewer near Valyland shopping centre next month after a nearby resident complained about sewage swamping his property when it rains.

Rory McShane, who lives in Lower Kinrae Crescent behind the Valyland centre, told the Echo in November last year that his house, garden, garage and backyard flat were regularly flooded by sewage. He said the problem had been ongoing for more than 10 years and despite reporting it to the City every time, little had been done to fix it, leaving him to unblock the pipes himself with a push-rod.

Rory McShane took this picture in December last year of what appears to be an oily substance flowing from the back of the Valyland centre.

Mr McShane said that following a report in the Echo last year, City officials had been to his house and run tests. However, he said, winter was on its way and the City had not told him the findings of the tests or what would be done to fix the problem.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste, said the smoke-testing and the CCTV camera survey could reveal other causes of sewer spills in the area.

Smoke would be pumped into the sewer to show where stormwater might be entering it. In the past, it would have been impossible to do that without canvassing a lot of properties, she said.

“Now the water and sanitation department officials can simply walk down the street and note the location of these cross-connections based on the presence of plumes of smoke,” she said.

City inspectors had found that restaurants and the Spar at the Valyland centre all had grease traps, but two of the restaurants’ traps had not been working properly because of design flaws and the owners had been sent notices about that, she said.

The Spar grease trap was in good condition but was only being cleaned once a week, she said. The supermarket would be asked to clean the trap daily, and there would be a follow-up inspection in two weeks.

Valyland centre management spokeswoman Lynne Vincent responded on behalf of Sandi’s Bistro, Valyland Flame Grilled and Spar. She confirmed that Sandi’s Bistro had received a notice on Thursday February 25 but said the grease trap had been passed by the inspector, with one minor alteration required, which was being attended to.

The health Inspector, she said, had also been happy with the management of the grease trap at Valyland Flame Grilled, which was inspected once a month. The owners were attending to a small alteration that had been requested. She said Our Pizza Place did not need a fat trap and had not been inspected.

A contractor cleaned the trap at the Spar once a week, which was more than enough for the type and size of the trap, she said.