Eden on the Bay in Big Bay, Cape Town, and residential development, Waters Edge, have been stooped in controversy since inception. Proper tender procedures were not followed and no dividends have been paid to Big Bay shareholders in five years. To top it all off raw sewage has been running onto the once Blue Flag beach. It all started in 2005 when the then ANC mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo had sold property to 17 black empowerment companies without an open tender process. After the tenders were scrapped by the city council, Jonga Entabeni was named the successful bidder. Since then the development has made headlines often, but one issue attracted more attention than most – the piping system.
It is commonly believed that the loss of Blue Flag status was because of this problem but the allegation remains unconfirmed. After three spills this year alone, enough was enough for local residents, so the ‘Wowees’ (Woman on Waves) arranged a protest on 27 March and subsequently handed over a petition to the then Ward 23 councilor Ian Neilson (Executive Deputy Mayor).
Marissa Jansen van Vuuren (the new Ward 23 DA Councillor) is now assigned to the task of finding a solution. Even though she believes the problem to be a ‘human error’ with regard to reaction time, she is also calling in a new engineer to work on the project. If there is truth to the rumour that the developer of Eden on the Bay cut corners with the waterworks, they will be held responsible. This seems unlikely to Jansen van Vuuren as there is no connection between the two centers but both places are being looked at.
Greater Blouberg has doubled in 10 years and is the fastest developing region in the Cape. In August 2006 rumours were already spreading that the waterworks infrastructure could not cater for the amount of people who had moved in. Urban sprawl may be a contributing factor but the bottom line remains, residents want to know who is to blame since spills have also occurred at Seaside Village, a shopping center nearby.
Bloubergstrand and Big Bay beaches are great tourist attractions for both locals and foreigners, with economic spin-offs for local businesses.
Supernews is calling on engineers, practical thinkers, problem solvers and community members to post your solutions online now and we will make sure they reach Jansen van Vuuren so change can happen!
The problem in more detail: All of Bloubergstrand, including Big Bay drains via gravity sewers to the sewage pump station. The sewage is then pumped over the ridge to the Melkbosstrand Waste Water Treatment Plant. Once the sewage in the sump at the pump reaches a defined level, the pump switches on and keeps pumping until the sump is empty and then switches off. There are two pumps in the pump station, so that if one fails to work, the other takes over, and if the electricity is disrupted, a standby generator in the pump station kicks in. If all the backups above fail and the sump level exceeds a warning level, a signal is sent to the Operations Centre to alert the staff to the failure. If all of the above fails, the sump fills up and then pushes back into the gravity sewers, causing sewage to push out through manholes at low points, such as those at the Life Savers Club in Big Bay. If the technicians do not respond quickly to an alarm, there will also be a spillage. Investigations by the City’s Executive Director for Utilities has found that in the cases of recent spillage, both the above causes of failure took place. He has thus taken action to ensure that any alarms are immediately responded to. Mr Neilson promised that ” …the City will continue to monitor these operational and maintenance issues, which will hopefully be adequate to prevent future sewage spills.” For a complete response by Ian Neilson, go to //www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=257&uid=138280929554003
Protest Video: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luGH2pxeLsU
Image 1: Pump station at Big Bay
Image 2: Eden on the Bay Centre
Image 3: Water gushing from drain, 12 May 2011, Sea Side Village
Image 4: Ward 23
Image 5: Water running down street from Sea Side Village, 12 May 2011