Earbuds, rags block Aloes pump station

Ear cotton swabs. File picture
Ear cotton swabs. File picture
Image: Pixabay.com

As municipal inspectors combed the Motherwell canal this week to find the source of “worrying levels of pollution”, the dumping of kilograms of earbuds and torn rags in a municipal sewer blocked up the Aloes pump station.

Due to the blockage, the overflow turned the water in the Markman canal red.

Retired conservation officer for the Zwartkops Conservancy Jenny Rump said they were very worried as both canals ran into the Swartkops River.

Rump said when they inspected the area on Thursday they had discovered thousands of earbuds and torn rags that caused the blockage in the pipe.

“Nobody should flush an earbud down the toilet,” Rump said. “It should go in the trash.”

Luthando Gxowa, the conservation officer for the Zwartkops Conservancy, said it had ongoing education programmes to teach people “not to put each and everything down the drain”.

“People don’t care where things end up. I was quite shocked. There were a lot of earbuds that came out of that pipe,” he said.

Rump said the Zwartkops Conservancy had been very concerned lately with what was coming down the Markman canal.

She said she and Gxowa had gone to check the Markman stormwater canal near EnviroServ on Wednesday.

“The water was bubbly and a reddish-brown colour and was more than usual. We decided to check up in Markman Industrial and drove along the canal up there. We found the same colour water coming into the canal from the big pipe inlet just below the Aloes pump station.

“When we got to the pump station we found that colour water in a deep hole dug just outside the fence of the Aloes pump station. We also found mounds of rags and earbuds,” she said.

Rump said on Thursday the red water was still flowing into the canal. “The Swartkops Estuary does not need this sort of pollution coming into it, especially after the months of very bad sewage pollution we have had to put up with when the Motherwell sewerage pipe and Brickfields pretreatment plants overflowed,” she said.

By Thursday afternoon municipal contractors could be seen at the Aloes pump station working on the blocked pipe.

“I checked the canals this morning,” Gxowa said. “It seems things are clearing up.”

Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said samples taken from the Motherwell canal after large clumps of foam were spotted there, showed worrying results of pollution.

“Extra points have been sampled from the canal to determine the source of the pollution,” he said.

He said the canal was being patrolled by foot to try to find the source of the chemical that was making the water foam.