Major sewage spill at Motherwell caused by manhole vandalism

Vandalism was the cause of the recent major sewage spill which swamped land between Dibanisa and Old Grahamstown roads in Motherwell, according to a metro report released this week.

The sewage erupted from the bulk sewerage line between Motherwell’s residential areas and the Brickfields pretreatment works, where the effluent is sieved to remove debris.

It created a foul-smelling lake which flowed into the adjacent stormwater canal and then the Swartkops estuary.

Visiting the site, The Herald found that while most of the effluent has been mopped up, a stench still hangs over the tattered veld, which is also strewn with illegal dumping.

The metro investigation report released this week said a blockage team from the metro’s Addo depot had initially tried using a “jetting machine” to fix the problem when it was first reported on October 25.

This proved only partially successful and another contractor took over, attempting to dig out the blockage.

“They were also unable to clear the blockage so another contractor was called in to control the spill and remove the blockage,” the report said.

The pipe was eventually unblocked on November 8. The cause of the blockage was clear, the report said.

“Vandalism of manhole covers has once again led to rocks and debris being thrown into the sewer which eventually blocked,” it said.

The report recommended that the community be educated on the workings of the stormwater system and “the problems caused when foreign objects are thrown into the manholes”.

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