PMB drowning in leaks

2016-02-10 06:00
PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT A river of water runs down Grimthorpe road from a leaking pipe in a gated complex. The water has been running for months judging by the algae that formed in the rivulet and damage to the road.

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT A river of water runs down Grimthorpe road from a leaking pipe in a gated complex. The water has been running for months judging by the algae that formed in the rivulet and damage to the road.

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THE Msunduzi Municipality is ­preparing to tackle water leaks in the city with a R10 million war chest.

A report presented to the council’s ­executive committee yesterday indicates that, with an average response time of 24 hours, the city can only attend to 50% of water leaks reported.

Understaffing, a lack of appropriate tools and limited vehicles are among the problems facing the municipality in ­addressing water leaks, an issue which has become a priority with the ­worsening drought.

The council has said it would need around R10 million for the repairs to be properly done, money being sourced from a municipal grant from the water department.

The report says the city is operating with only 26 plumbers on the ground, instead of the 70 it should have.

Part of the plan entails recruiting 20 trade-tested and experienced plumbers to assist as supervisors for the first three months of the leak repair project.

An amount of R120 000 would be spent on tool boxes for the repair teams, and 25 vehicles would be leased to assist the teams to attend to leaks faster and more efficiently.

An amount of R1,2 million would also be spent on the launch of a “war on water leaks” event to be held by the municipality in Imbali next month. The project, intended to get communities to conserve water and report leaks, has been made a top priority, with other municipal projects being sacrificed, says the report.

The national project was initiated by the Office of the President to help ­municipalities fight leaks to save water.

“The municipality is planning on ­implementing the same project as the same problem exists with our municipal area,” said Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi.

The report revealed that 14 352 water customers were suspected of having leaks.

The outstanding bill from these accounts stands at more than R520 million, with the total attracting interest of more than R49 million per month.

“This is the main reason for the ­stubborn debtors’ book that we have currently,” the report states.

It adds that communal taps were ­often left running because “none of the community members have personal ­interest … and therefore no one will take responsibility”.

The launch of the “war on water leaks” project, to be held at the Sinqobile sports field in Imbali next month, is ­expected to address this issue.

Nkosi said it was important to launch the project as community participation was “mandatory” for the plan’s seamless implementation.

In addition, the municipality was looking at other ways to reduce the loss of water.

Currently, Pietermaritzburg has “turn-type” taps in public spaces which, when not twisted closed properly, result in huge water losses. It was ­recommended that the city change to “push-type” taps which would assist in water conservation.

“The clear ­advantage of the push-type switch is water conservation. This type of tap can only release water if it is held by hand. If the hand is off the head of the tap, then water is switched off by the internal mechanism,” the report states.

Should this project not be ­implemented, the water loss would put a strain on the municipality’s cash flow, and there would not be enough ­resources to carry out its service delivery mandate, it states.

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