Our Burning Planet


Sewage spills — Nahoon estuary forum takes Buffalo City municipality to court, again

Sewage spills — Nahoon estuary forum takes Buffalo City municipality to court, again
Sewage overflowing into the Nahoon Estuary in the Eastern Cape. (Photos: Supplied)

The forum already has three cases against the municipality, but the Nahoon Estuary Management Forum is again heading back to court.

The Nahoon Estuary Management Forum is taking the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality to court to force it to fix the sewage problems in the Eastern Cape city.

Forum chairperson Christo Theart said they had three pending cases against the municipality.

“We have a new case regarding spillages in Nompumelelo where we will be asking for a high-pressure cleaner to clear blockages and cast-iron, lockable sewer manhole covers to limit continuous blocked and overflowing sewers at manholes,” he said.

The second case concerned an overflowing sewer pump station near the Blue Lagoon Hotel, while “the third is for the continuous spills into the Ihlanza River that resulted in the Nahoon Beach having been closed for four months already this year”.

nahoon estuary

Sewage overflows into the Nahoon Estuary in the Eastern Cape. (Photo: Supplied)

According to Theart, sewage has been spilling from Nompumelelo township into the Nahoon River Estuary in East London “for many years” without the municipality attending to it.

On 5 April 2022, the East London High Court ordered the municipality to conduct a comprehensive audit of the sewerage infrastructure in Nompumelelo, which is located above the estuary, and to develop a repair-and-maintenance plan.

The court also ordered the municipality to develop a contingency plan for accidental sewage spills at Nompumelelo, and to prevent effluent from entering the stormwater system.

The estuary is a major tourist attraction in the Buffalo City area and is used for canoeing, boating, fishing and swimming.

Lapsed timeframes

Speaking to Our Burning Planet on Thursday, Theart said three court orders relating to the Maldives pump station, Torquay road sewage spills and Nompumelelo spills have lapsed in terms of actions and timeframes ordered by the court.

“We are going back to court with contempt applications as we or our attorneys have nothing in writing, no report, no application for extension of time. [The municipality] is waiting for the contempt of court and wants to waste the ratepayers’ money,” he said.

Theart said they know that the municipality has appointed a consulting engineer to investigate the Torquay spills and that a report has been submitted to the municipality, but they have not seen it.

nahoon sign

A sign at the Nahoon Estuary in the Eastern Cape. (Photo: Facebook / @nahoonestuary)

“The municipality has appointed a contractor to clear the cast-iron sewer pipe from the Torquay road to the pump station on Nahoon Beach. This is not the first time — about two years ago they appointed a contractor. The project started, but ran out of funds soon after and they abandoned the project.”

He said that was only one action in the order and they had no idea about the rest.

“We will see when the contempt is in court. A big issue that we have discussed with the sanitation department and the business chamber is the long delay to fix burst pipes, as it takes more than three weeks to fix the pipes after it is reported,” he added.

Sewer outfall upgrade

The metro’s executive mayor, Xola Pakati, announced the work to be done on the estuary during his state of the city address on 4 August 2022.

On Wednesday, the metro handed the site over to a contractor.

“We have appointed engineers for designs for the upgrading of the Nahoon sewer outfall as it has reached its design capacity. This project is intended to protect the Nahoon Estuary from contamination and allow continued development in the Nahoon catchment area,” said Pakati.

The municipality planned to resolve the problems at the estuary with the sewer line running along the Nahoon River, from Batting Bridge to Nahoon Beach. For years there have been overflow bursts in the area, especially after heavy rain.

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“The sewer became a huge problem for environmental purposes for residents and beachgoers. The contractor established a site on Monday to start the dredging project at the Nahoon outfall sewer, which has been problematic for some time,” he said.

The municipality’s general manager for water, wastewater and scientific services, Bandile Gqweta, said they had set aside a budget of R1.5-million for the dredging and appointed a contractor for 30 days to try to unblock that sewerage line.

“The idea is to get a camera to get inside the pipe to enable a condition assessment of the pipe itself to see if it is in a good state and which sections of the pipe need to be replaced, as well as to know which sections need to be designed in order to have an idea as to how much we should budget for construction of the pipe,” he said.

They also needed to establish whether it was feasible to try to reroute the pipe, since sections were very flat, the lack of incline hindering the flow of sewage, which caused the major blockages. DM/OBP/MC

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Confucious Says says:

    How to ruin a city; brought to you by the ANC! I used swim and fish in this river as a schoolboy and it was a wonderful resource. In 20 years its been destroyed, much like everything else the cadre party touches!

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