LETTER: Water crisis is City’s fault

2016-11-01 06:00

We have had all sorts of suggestions in the newspapers on how to save water since we seem to be entering a crisis.

Pour water from the bath onto the garden, wash hands in a basin of water and don’t just let the tap run and so on.

Yet a main pipe burst just up the road from our home in Markham Road, Claremont.

A fountain of water shot into the air. It must have been a two-inch pipe that ran for probably four hours before they were able to turn it off and effect a repair.

Same thing happened at the Fish Hoek yacht club. Again a main pipe burst and it took two days to get it turned off and repaired.

We were camping at the Fish Hoek caravan park and the second toilet in the men’s ablutions ran solidly all day long because the ball valve was damaged. I told them about it and wrote a letter. Ten days later it was still running. Each time they said: “Don’t worry, we will fix it today.”

Why should we battle to save a few litres when tens of thousands of litres pour down the road for hours on end?

Total inefficiency is costing us our water.

Peter Anderson Claremont

Ernest Sonnenberg, Mayco member for utility services, responds:

The City of Cape Town’s pipe replacement programme, as part of the broader water conservation and water demand management programme, was internationally recognised at last year’s C40 Cities Awards in Paris as being the best in the world in terms of how it helps the City adapt to climate change. This programme has reduced the burst rate from 63.9 bursts per 100km of piping in the 2010/2011 financial year, to 31 bursts per 100km, according to the latest statistics.

In order to keep perspective, we must realise that when operating a reticulation network that would stretch from here to Australia, leaks will never be completely eliminated. However, the City has optimised its resources to address these as efficiently as possible.

When a report of a fault is received, a first-level responder will go out to inspect the fault as soon as possible. First-level responders are able to perform minor repairs. If the repairs required are beyond the capacity of the first responder, they will call in a team with the appropriate expertise and equipment.

In cases where the leak is minor, water supply to the area is often maintained until another team is available to fix the leak (the leak will be allowed to run in order to maintain water supply to the residents until a fully equipped repair team is available). If the burst is major, the first responder will turn off the supply at the main, ensuring major wastage does not occur.

Minor leaks are considered lower priority, and are sometimes not fixed immediately because crews are attending to larger leaks or pipe bursts. A major burst can, in a few seconds, let more water run to waste than a minor leak would in a few weeks. Reports of slow response times are often a result of the mistaken assumption that the City has forgotten about the service request. In reality, it is most likely due to more pressing needs elsewhere.

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