Nkandla: Zuma opens centre, presents gifts

2008-12-29 00:00

Ageing and inadequate infrastructure is playing havoc with water supplies in KZN towns.

Worst hit is Greytown, where residents are warned that if they don’t stop topping up their swimming pools, watering their gardens and washing their cars, the town could run out of water by the end of summer.

In Pietermaritzburg, more than 40 major pipes in the system have burst three or more times in just one year.

Residents in Athlone have been particularly hard hit, going without water often throughout the year — sometimes for three days and often at weekends.

Greytown’s water woes are attributed to the town’s ageing waterworks. According to sources, the raw water mains are badly furred up, but cannot be cleaned because an interruption to the town’s water supplies is not possible.

The pipes are more than 45 years old and are operating at maximum pressure, resulting in frequent pipe bursts. There are also a number of leaks in the system.

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) has calculated that over 1,5 million litres are being lost daily through leaks and wasteful water use in the town.

The government has set aside R15 million to upgrade the town’s water system, but this will happen in stages over the next three years.

In the meantime, certain areas in the town started experiencing water shortages over three weeks ago. Just before Christmas it became so severe that water tankers were doing the rounds.

The Umvoti Water Consumer Committee believes the situation would not have reached this critical stage if residents had heeded the call to conserve water.

According to the committee, some residents are filling up their pools, watering their gardens and washing their cars, heedless of the continuous calls to conserve water.

An appeal is made to residents to continuously read their meters and keep their water usage to below 30 kilolitres per month.

The uMzinyathi District Municipality has, together with DWAF and uThukela Water, started to sort out the problem, but appeals to residents for their co-operation.

At the beginning of December a pressure management system was introduced. This entailed reducing pressure in the water system during off-peak hours, which reduces the rate of leakage without compromising the flow of water for the town’s needs and for fire-fighting requirements.

An active leak-detecting and repair programme has been started and it is hoped that this will result in an estimated reduction in leaks of between 200 000 and 300 000 litres of water per day.

Explaining the Athlone water problems, Msunduzi Municipal spokeswoman Ntobeko Ngcobo confirmed that the cause was pipe bursts.

“We have no control over pipe bursts as these occur randomly. There have been a few bursts on the pipe that goes through Wylie Park to supply the Athlone area. This pipe has been identified for replacement from our burst records,” she said.

However, Ngcobo adds that there are other pipes in the city that have burst more often.

“We have a list of over 40 pipes with more than three bursts in the 2007/08 financial year.

“For the Wylie Park pipeline we are also investigating an alternative supply so that disruptions will be minimised.”

She said the Wylie Park pipeline is situated in a very difficult location. This makes it difficult to get machinery to the site and the job therefore takes longer than normal.

Ngcobo said that when the pipe is replaced, the municipality will consider whether to relocate it to make maintenance easier.

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