Ailing pipes need overhaul

2015-01-22 00:00

THERE is no end in sight to the 15-day water crisis gripping Winterskloof, ­Hilton and Mount Michael.

The problem has now been blamed on an ailing pipe network that needs a complete overhaul.

Municipal officials tasked with ­plugging the leaks that have left ­hundreds of homes without water say that the entire pipe network needs to be replaced immediately.

Irate residents, left high and dry for over two weeks now while technicians scramble to restore the supply, continue to fume.

uMgungundlovu municipal manager Sbu Khuzwayo said the replacement of the antiquated water pipe network would begin in the first quarter of this year.

“It [the problem] is the result of a spate of underground leaks in the ­pipeline leading to Mount Michael, which is at the top end of the reticulation channel. The water pipeline has aged considerably, necessitating a complete overhaul of the network.

“When the overhaul of the water infrastructure is done, there will be a systematic process to ensure that residents get water on a regular basis. It is like constructing a new road and still allowing traffic to go through,” Khuzwayo added.

He also promised a quick fix, that residents in affected areas would have water in the next 24 hours.

“Teams from Umgeni Water are on site to augment the district municipality’s technical team. Furthermore, water tankers have been brought in to provide emergency supplies,” he said.

Similar promises were made last week when Umgeni Water reported that the shortage, or non-existence, of water in the Winterskloof, Hilton and Mount Michael areas was caused by air in the water lines.

This week they referred comment to Khuzwayo.

Department of Co-operative Governance spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said uMgungundlovu was one of their most efficient entities and it was therefore concerning that it was struggling to solve the problem. “This must be a much bigger problem,” Mabaso said.

In a report made by Khuzwayo on Monday, he describes the water situation in Winterskloof and Mount Michael as “unchanged”.

Most recently, two underground leaks were found in Budleigh Road on Tuesday, which are presumed to be the source of the extended water interruption.

“As I speak, the two high-level teams from the Department of Water and ­Sanitation and Umgeni Water are on site with sophisticated machinery to locate all the underground leaks,” Khuzwayo said in his report.

Democratic Alliance councillor Pam Passmoor described the situation as “dire”, with some residents having had no water for two weeks straight, while others received a supply for an hour or two a day.

She said the matter had been escalated to the premier.

“The residents are suffering and are desperate for the problem to be resolved so that their lives can return to normal,” Passmoor said.

“I am pleased that the whole problem has been escalated to the provincial Department of Co-operative Governance as well as the Department of Water Affairs and hope that the residents will get water in the next 24 hours,” she added.

THERE has been an outcry by furious residents now calling themselves “thirstys”, demanding more action and less talk.

Resident Dennis Bailey said that the protracted crisis was “ridiculous”.

“The municipality knows that this is now an emergency and they should move this up and call the contractor to get on-site and start fixing the problems. This is actually ridiculous now; we have been without water for 15 days,” he said.

“We are now catching rain water. We have many containers that we fill up during the few minutes that the water comes out.

“While we are surviving on rain water, we need the municipal water because that water helps us run our machines,” Bailey added.

Judy Bell, of Winterskloof, said that the repair crew had inadvertently caused another water pipe to burst during a rushed excavation.

“Sections of Winterskloof still have no water. They are relying on the streams, rain water and supplies from the water tanker. Residents are understandably angry,” she said.

“As the teams go around trying to find the sources of the leaks, they make more in the process,” she said.

She said they had asked for a meeting with the municipal manager to try and discuss the way forward.

A resident in the Mount Michael area, who asked not to be named, said they are tired of listening to reasons why they don’t have water.

“I don’t want to know why I don’t have water; I want to know what is being done to get it back. We are calling ourselves thirstys because basically we are dehydrated and thirsty for water,” he said.

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