City invests R22 million to plug water leaks

2011-02-17 00:00

REPORT that water leak! That’s the plea from Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr.

The municipality yesterday announced it is investing more than R22 million in a bid to reduce the unacceptably high levels of water leaks in its reticulation system. If this is not done, water restrictions and increased interruptions could happen.

Sixty-three percent of Pietermaritzburg’s water is “non-revenue”, either lost or not paid for by users; 35% of this is the result of leaks and bursts, and the remainder is due to illegal, unmetered or unregistered connections.

Now in its first phase, the “water conservation and water demand management initiative” is expected to boost service delivery and halve water leaks by 2013. Water Affairs is putting in R3 million of the R22,1 million budget.

The acting executive for water distribution management, Brenden Siverparsad, said nearly half of the city’ ageing infrastructure needs to be replaced.

“We can defer some of this replacement with pressure optimising,” he said.

Asked if the water is safe to drink given the condition of the reticulation system Siverparsad responded: “Yes, without a doubt.” He said municipal water is tested by the supplier, Umgeni Water, and on a weekly basis by the municipality.

The first phase of the project will see a programme of pipe renewal and leak detection, as well as the repair of leaking reservoirs and the improvement of reservoir security.

Preventive maintenance will be done on key infrastructure. Illegal connections will be terminated and all connections registered and metered to improve the efficiency of meter readings and billing.

The municipality will also undertake a consumer awareness and education campaign.

“This programme is not just about water loss, but also about educating people about how use water wisely so they can save money.”

Tarr said that pipe replacement and a pressure reduction programme will ensure that the water reticulation network that distributes an average of 160 million litres of water to over 600 000 people each day remains as efficient as possible.

Lower pressure is a long-term solution that “will significantly lower the operating costs of the municipality which ultimately lowers the cost of water for the consumer,” said Tarr

Report leaks and illegal connections toll free on 080 000 1868.

As part of the Water Conservation and Water Demand Management initiative two third-year engineering diploma learners have been integrated into the programme. The Durban Institute of Technology‘s (DUT) learnership programme, called Singakwenza Ndawonye, generates funding which is used for the theoretical element of the course. In effect the funds paid to DUT will pay for the learner’s continued education.

City Mayor Mike Tarr says: “The idea is to grow the number of learnerships on the Msunduzi programme to four. The learners will work their six months’ practical training on the Msunduzi project.”

“There is a great shortage of engineering Technicians, and once graduated we are hoping to give full time employment to those who show talent.”

Tarr said that phase one began in December last year. The Department of Water Affairs is contributing R3 million of the R22,1 million budget.

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