Skip to content





Smoking out illegal stormwater and sewer connections<p>For the past ten years, the Water Pollution Control Unit of the Water and Sanitation Directorate has been using smoke tests to combat pollution and sewage overflows, particularly during winter, when the increased rainfall puts added pressure on the City's sewer system due to stormwater ingress.<br></p><p>With the help of this technique it becomes easy to locate uncurbed sewer gullies, which are those without a barrier wall to stop stormwater from draining into the sewer system. <br></p><p>Smoke detection also enables the City to identify gutter downpipes that direct rainwater into the sewer system, and detect connections where backwash incorrectly deposits straight into the stormwater system.       </p><p>This quick and easy solution involves placing a smoke blower machine over a manhole leading to a sewer pipe. Once the machine is turned on and heats up, it pumps smoke through the pipeline. The team carefully monitors where the smoke comes out, indicating where there are illegal cross-connections or defects in sewer system. <br></p><p>Once an illegal cross-connection is confirmed, property owners are notified through a contravention notice, informing them of the City's findings and advising them to rectify it. </p><p> <span></span></p><figure class="subtopic-fullsize-img"><img class="responsive" src="" alt="" style="width:989px;" /></figure>​'To make sure the City's sewer system is in good condition, the Water Pollution Control team works proactively to perform tests and inspections. Illegal connections are often a concern, especially during winter rains. High volumes of excess water can stretch the capacity of wastewater conveyance systems.<br><p></p><p>'In addition to increasing the potential for overflows, it forces the City's wastewater treatment facilities to handle water, that otherwise would not have needed to be treated,' said the City's Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.<br></p><p>With improvement of inland water quality set as one of the Mayor's top priorities, it was a great success when the City exceeded targets by testing 272km of sewer pipeline across the City in the 2022/2023 financial year. The team is now well on the way to reaching its target of testing 170km in the current 2023/24 financial year. <br></p><p><strong>When to expect an inspection in your neighbourhood</strong></p><p>Water Pollution Control teams operate according to a planned, citywide schedule. Residents are informed through a knock-and-drop notice when inspectors intend to conduct tests on their street. <br></p><p>Areas are selected based on reports of:</p><ul><li>Increased inflow into the nearest wastewater treatment works;</li><li>increased sewer blockages;</li><li>problems related to storm water ingress; and</li><li>sewer surcharges<br></li></ul><br><strong>Current hotspots</strong><br><br><p>More recently, testing has been concentrated in Gordon's Bay. A total of 6 370 properties have undergone a combination of smoke testing and door-to-door inspections. In the coming months, work will continue in Strand. The aim is to complete testing of 74km of pipeline that passes through approximately 5 000 households.<br></p><p><br></p><p><strong>End</strong><br></p>2024-02-10T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891dGP0|#02035304-a73a-4f85-bfec-39cdbff0186e;L0|#002035304-a73a-4f85-bfec-39cdbff0186e|water connection;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb1Media Office, City of Cape Town0

You have disabled JavaScript on your browser.
Please enable it in order to use City online applications.