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The City of Cape Town’s Transport Directorate is calling on residents to do their bit to keep pollution out of the stormwater infrastructure. Roads overflow when waste and objects are dumped into the stormwater drains. These objects block the infrastructure, thus, the only sustainable solution is for residents to work with us and to get rid of waste in a responsible manner.

‘The City is responsible for monitoring stormwater infrastructure and facilities. These must be well maintained and cleared to prevent roads from overflowing. However, we cannot do this on our own, we need our residents to work with us. Only runoff after rainfall events should end up in the stormwater drains. Nothing else. Thus, no greywater, or waste, should be dumped into our stormwater drains. The City is cleaning the infrastructure as often as we can, but we need residents to be part of the solution. When rain or water hits hard surfaces like pavements and road surfaces it creates stormwater runoff, which picks up whatever is dumped on hard surfaces. The runoff drains into the underground stormwater infrastructure – this runoff is not treated and drains into the sea. Thus, it is up to each of us to keep it as clean as possible, and not to dump or pollute,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Councillor Rob Quintas.

The Road Infrastructure Department manages stormwater systems across Cape Town to prevent flooding of properties and roads, and that urban stormwater does not contribute to the degradation of the natural environment.

Getting to know your stormwater and its purpose will help residents know what to do. Below are the different stormwater infrastructure:

Firstly, it is important to understand what a stormwater system is – it is designed to carry rainfall and is typically located within curbs. A stormwater within a basement floor drains in older buildings as well, along with alleys and driveways. There is often a logo on, or some kind of writing that warns that anything poured down the stormwater ends up in a local water source.

The main purpose of a stormwater is to carry away excess rain, hence the name ‘stormwater’. Once the rainfall flows through the opening of the storm sewer, it travels through underground pipes such as conduits and culverts and other infrastructure to the ocean or nearby ponds, canals or rivers.

A stormwater manhole refers to an access point to pipes in both sewage drains (foul) and surface water drains (storm). These access points are usually situated at the beginning, end, or change of direction, diameter, level or at intermediate points in a long straight line of pipe. Their use is to provide access to the pipe for inspection or rodding and cleaning purposes

A catchpit is an empty chamber that is installed into a drainage system to prevent silt and debris from building up, and causing blockages. Catchpits are essential in preventing pipe blockages, which would result in the backing up of water in the drainage system – therefore leading to flooding.

How to prevent stormwater pollution:

  • Always dispose litter and waste in the correct wastebins. Failure to do so can injure and even kill ducks, fish, turtles and other animals and is not good for our environment.
  • Always scoop dog poop into the wastebin. Pet waste can spread disease and contaminate our water sources
  • Always put your yard waste like leaves, grass clippings, etc. in a refuse bag for collection. It can clog our the stormdrains and create flooding for your neighbourhood and a mess in where it ends up.
  • Always read and carefully follow the instructions when using pesticides and fertilisers. These chemicals wash into the infrastructure and cause toxins to build up.
  • Always dispose of your vehicle maintenance waste like motor oil, and soapy water from washing cars properly and never allow these pollutants to go on to the streets or in the stormwater infrastructure. 
  • Never dump household hazardous waste like cooking grease, paint and even medicine in your sink or outside.

‘The pollutant stormwater can make our water toxic and unsafe but if each of us makes small changes, we can protect our environment and ensure that our stormwater is clean and our environment is healthy for all of us. I want to assure residents that we are doing everything in our power to keep our stormwater infrastructure well maintained. We are consistently looking at new and more efficient ways of delivering services, and doing road maintenance,’ said Councillor Quintas.

I also want to urge residents to report blocked stormwater drains and stolen or damaged stormwater drain covers or anyone who dumps objects or liquid waste in stormwater drains using the following channels:

  • Transport Information Centre (TIC) on 080 065 6463. This is a 24/7 information centre and free from a landline or a cell phone.
  • Send an email to Transport.Info@capetown.gov.za

‘Residents are reminded to please include their name, contact number and the exact location of the blocked stormwater infrastructure. It is very important to ensure that the details of the location are 100% correct as this will improve our response time. We want to thank our residents for working with us,’ said Councillor Quintas.