Modderfontein Outfall Sewer – Non-compliance but maybe hope

Dumping in Illiondale *

Work on the Modderfontein Outfall Sewer in Illiondale ended in mid-2019, but in lower Illiondale near Modderfontein Road rubble, concrete slabs and discarded pipes lay scattered for all to see. As of this week the contractor has returned to remove abandoned concrete pipes. This after months of complaints and representations by residents, Ward Councillor and Edenvale RiverWatch.

But there is more. The work does not comply with many conditions of the Environmental Authorization and Water use Licence for the project. City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) is surely in default on both authorizations because the time to clear the site and make good has long expired.

Photo of the abandoned Modderfontein Outfall Sewer construction site with concrete slabs, rubble and discarded pipes
Abandoned Modderfontein Outfall Sewer construction site in December 2019 with concrete slabs, rubble and discarded pipes
Concrete pipes partly removed seven months after completion the Modderfontein Outfall Sewer - February 2020
Concrete pipes partly removed after seven months – Modderfontein Outfall Sewer 19 February 2020

Licence conditions and accountability *

Environmental Authorization (GAUT:002/08-09/N0584) for the Modderfontein Outfall Sewer Project, issued by Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), gives specific requirements. Among other things, the contractor must clear the site of rubble and waste, return temporary roads to their original state, fix any changes made to the stream channel and rehabilitate path of the pipeline. The rehabilitation must be complete six months after construction work ends, and monitored for the next 18 months.

The National Department of Water and Sanitation issues Water Use Licenses (WUL). The conditions are similar but more specific to the stream channel. The licence for this project (07/A21C/Cl/7712) requires clearing the site and fixing any temporary changes to stream channel within one month of completing the work.

The City of Ekurhuleni, as owner, developer and licence holder, is accountable for compliance. In terms of the authorizations the city appoints an Environmental Control Officer (ECO) for the task. The ECO monitors the work and keeps a permanent written and photographic record of activities and instances of non-compliance. The ECO enforces corrective action on non-compliance and may impose penalties.

The City of Ekurhuleni appears to be in default on both authorizations. And since the project was abandoned without rehabilitation, it seems unlikely there is monitoring and follow up.

The material that follows in this post I sent to CoE on 4 January 2020, pointing out the non-compliance and asking what action Edenvale residents could expect. There is no acknowledgement from CoE after six weeks. But there signs of response and monitoring will continue.

Modderfontein Outfall Sewer Non-compliance *

Concrete pipes lie abandoned in the area between Margaret Road and R25 Modderfontein Road. The progress of the project seen on Google Earth shows they are left over from the construction.

Concrete pipes abandoned by the contractor after completing the Modderfontein Outfall Sewer - December 2019
Concrete pipes abandoned after completing the Modderfontein Outfall Sewer – December 2019

Slabs of concrete from the demolished R25 Pump House were dumped into the channel of the stream. They are largely overgrown with vegetation in the wet season.

Photo of concrete slabs from demolished Illiondale R25 Pump house in stream channel 2019
Concrete slabs from demolished Illiondale R25 Pump house in stream channel 2019

The contractors created a temporary road off the end of Dunbar Rd in upper Illiondale for access to the power line servitude. They filled the channel of the Kelvin Stream with rocks to make a causeway. When they had finished they left the stream in this condition, even though local residents pointed out the issue and asked them to restore it. As a result storm water now spills out of the channel and runs down the temporary road into Dunbar Rd. This places the road and residents at risk of flooding. The WUL specifically forbids both leaving a temporary blockage in place and changing the flow pattern of runoff. To make things more complicated, the causeway lies across the border between Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.

Photo of stream channel filled with rocks to allow vehicle access, not rehabilitated at the end of the Modderfontein Outfall Sewer Project, now diverting floodwaters
Kelvin Stream channel filled with rocks for vehicle access now diverting stormwater
Satellite image of Illiondale showing the temporary road and causeway across Kelvin Stream the contractor abandoned. October 2019
Temporary road and causeway blocking Kelvin Stream left by the Modderfontein Outfall Sewer Project

Modderfontein River – Projects and Authorizations (EIA)

Find projects that impact the Modderfontein River. Match the project to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP). Read an Edenvale RiverWatch Status and Appraisal of the project. These projects are in Illiondale and Isandovale residential suburbs, Sebenza and Spartan Industrial Estates and the Modderfontein suburbs and industrial complex.

Satellite photo of sewage pump house in Illiondale, Edenvale, being demolished in May 2019
Modderfontein Outfall Sewer Project: Demolition of the R25 pump house in lower Illiondale, May 2019

List of Modderfontein River Projects *

Reference & EAPProjectDate Description and Status:
GAUT 002/18-19/E0118
EAP: Nali Sustainability Solutions (Pty) Ltd
ncube.nali@gmail.con
Longlake Extension 34 TownshipStarted January 2020Adjacent to Modderfontein Reserve, with stormwater attenuation in the reserve
GAUT 002/18-19/E2345

EAP: Citofield
info@citofield.co.za
Phasing out Spartan Sewage Pump StationStarted March 2019A new sewer line will cross the veld from Spartan to Illiondale, feeding into the CoJ wastewater system.
Reference not available
EAP: Advisian
liezel.hattingh@advisian.com
Remediation of Upper Jukskei Catchment in EkurhuleniStarted May 2019A broad plan including the Modderfontein River in Illiondale. Still in a work in progress, but there are problems. Read more …
GAUT 002/18-19/E0245

EAP: Green Tree Environmental Consulting
yonanda@gtec.net.za
Soccer fields, Bird and Sculpture Park near Modderfontein Dam Approved Aug 2019 and Dec 2019Partial Authorization was given first, requiring all structures to be outside the 30 m wetland buffer zone. Final authorization given December 2019.
Gaut 002/15-16/E0043

EAP: Environmental Impact Services Management (EIMS)
zizo@eims.co.za
Illiondale Wetland Rehabilitation ProjectApproved April 2016Implementation started in 2017, but little was done and much was ineffective. Read a full assessment …
GAUT 002/08-09/N0584

EAP: Seaton Thompson & Associates. seaton@yebo.co.za
Modderfontein Outfall SewerApproved Nov 2008Project completed in 2019 after a start in 2011. But site clearing and rehabilitation have failed badly as shown in this report …
GAUT 002/08-09/N0946

EAP: Strategic Environmental Focus (SEF). ctu@setsa.co.za
Isandovale Soil Erosion Management Approved Jan 2008 Run off control from Baker Rd to Modderfontein Rd (R25). Completed in 2011, it left a legacy of failures. Read more on this and subsequent work up to 2019

NOTES: *

The Modderfontein River catchment consists of Illiondale residential suburb, Sebenza and Spartan Industrial Estates and Kelvin Power in City of Ekurhuleni. In City of Johannesburg the river flows through Modderfontein Village with the AECI factory and the Modderfontein Reserve. Founder’s Hill South, although in Johannesburg, feeds stormwater and sometimes pollution into Illiondale.

The applications include specialist studies such as reports on the condition of the streams and riparian zones, wildlife and vegetation, heritage significance, hydrology and flood lines, and more.

These projects also require Water Use Licence Authorizations (WULA). Contact the EAP for information on a project.

Additional work on a stream may be within the scope of an earlier authorization, and sometimes an earlier authorization may be amended with a new reference number.

If you know of projects not included in this summary please contact me. irwin@edenvaleriverwatch.co.za.