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New technology smokes out illegal stormwater discharges

New technology smokes out illegal stormwater discharges

The City of Cape Town is excited to announce that the Water and Sanitation Department’s first trial of new smoke testing technology was a roaring success. Testing was conducted in various parts of the city and under different conditions to determine the system’s efficacy. This technology will now be used to detect illegal or unsanctioned stormwater discharges into the sewerage system.

The introduction of the smoke testing technology represents a significant step forward for the City, and is likely to result in significant savings for the ratepayer. Preliminary estimates indicate that maximum savings could be in the region of R36.55m.

This new method of detection involves pumping smoke into the local sewerage system to locate inappropriate ingress of stormwater into the sewerage system. Previously it was not possible to detect or pinpoint where this was taking place without canvassing a large number of properties (properties to which access may have been difficult). Now Water and Sanitation officials can now simply walk down the street and note the location of these cross-connections based on the presence of plumes of smoke.

Where it is found that illegal/unsanctioned connections exist, the property owners will be provided with a compliance order to rectify the matter within a stipulated period, failing which a fine will be issued in terms of the City of Cape Town’s Wastewater By-law.

‘Illegal connections are problematic in that, especially during wet weather, the presence of excess water can stretch the capacity of the City’s wastewater conveyance systems. Not only can this result in overflows, but the City’s wastewater treatment plants are being forced to process water that otherwise should not have been treated. Limiting the amount of water that is unnecessarily treated every year will improve the quality of effluent that enters the environment.

‘Not only will the environmental benefit be significant, but unpleasant overflows which could cause health issues and discomfort will also be limited, and there will be a significant saving for the ratepayer. We urge residents to please cooperate with any City officials who issue a notice that a contravention exists on their property. It is only with your collaboration that this problem can be effectively tackled,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg.

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