City programme to reduce water leakages a huge failure

2015-12-11 10:30
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Pietermaritzburg - A plan by the city to reduce the amount of water that they provide without being paid anything for — lost through leaking pipes — is failing dismally.

Four years into the city’s six-year programme to address the issue, the manager of the internal audit committee, Pumla Stamper, admitted this week that it is failing and that pipe bursts have almost doubled in recent years.

Councillors at this week’s executive committee meeting questioned why more than halfway into the programme they were only being notified about this now.

“It worries me that this project is not working four years later. Water could be the source of the next world war. It’s that important,” said DA councillor Judith Lawrence.

In a report to the city council, it was recorded that water pipe bursts increased from 608 in 2006/2007 to almost double at 1 900 in 2014/2015, averaging at seven pipe bursts per day.

Stamper said initial analysis did not identify that the root cause is that generally the city’s asbestos cement pipelines have reached their 30-year lifespan. The asbestos cement pipelines account for over 60% of 1 222 km of Msunduzi’s entire water reticulation system.

“Although this is an all encompassing programme which deals with several issues pertaining to water losses, it has failed. A new strategy is required that will address the real root cause as indicated,” said Stamper.

Councillor Bill Lambert said the fact that the city’s water leak reduction programme was failing is brought more into focus now that the province is experiencing a drought.

“Correcting this plan or coming up with a better way forward should be one of our main priorities,” said Lambert.

Stamper added that a cash-flow injection was needed to tackle the challenge and will require a quick turn-around on debt collection.

The matter was stood down this week, and the deputy municipal manager of infrastructure was tasked to develop and submit a comprehensive strategy to the audit committee.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water

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