Msunduzi drowning in leaks

2015-02-10 00:00

CLOSE to R1 billion rand — that’s what it’s going to take to repair Msunduzi’s ailing water infrastructure.

The money is needed to replace crumbling water pipes to save millions of litres of water lost through multiple leaks.

This is according to a report on water and sanitation tabled at council last week, which paints a bleak picture of the state of water and sanitation in the capital city. It states that more than half of the city’s water assets are in either “a poor or very poor condition”.

The asbestos cement pipes that ­account for over 60% of the 1 222 km of the entire water reticulation network have reached the end of their 30-year lifespan.

The report shows that in the last seven years, there has been a dramatic increase in reports of water leaks.

Residents across the city complain daily of leaks, at times with water ­flooding their homes.

Zulfiyyah Khan, who lives near Alexandra Road, invited The Witness to see a leak next to her house on Friday.

She had noticed the leak and reported it last Monday, but it had still not been attended to. The leak had formed a stream going towards her home and she feared that the water would compromise the foundation of her house and perimeter wall. “I have been calling since ­Monday and they told me to wait my turn. They said they are receiving as many as 35 complaints per day. This is not the first time water has leaked here. Last year the water formed a dam next to my house. They [Msunduzi officials] could not find the fault,” she said.

Khan said the water leak continued for weeks in that instance. “It became a health hazard as the water had turned green. My children could not play in the yard and there were frogs there that kept us awake at night.”

A Northdale resident who declined to be named also complained about “millions” of litres of water leaking from a pipe into a stormwater drain. “The sound it’s making is like a waterfall; millions of litres are being lost,” he said.

The water and sanitation report states that by the end of this financial year, there would have been about 1 825 ­reports of burst pipes. In 2007, there were just 608 such reports.

“In the current financial year we have recorded 575 burst mains in 122 days, which rounds up to five burst mains per day; projecting burst mains for the ­remainder of the financial year shows a total of 1 825 bursts,” the report said.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality would spend about R900 million replacing about 400 kilometres of water pipes that have passed their lifespan.

“The majority of the bursts are due to ageing infrastructure. There are instances when pressure control valves fail or malfunction, which results in pressure spikes and therefore burst pipes.”

The ageing pipes will be replaced with SABS-approved plastic pipes.

A plan to improve the water ­infrastructure over the next five years is awaiting approval from council.

Mafumbatha said Northdale, ­Hayfields, Edendale, Chase Valley and Vulindlela had the oldest infrastructure.

The municipality has already started replacing parts of the water infrastructure in Edendale.

Mafumbatha did not reply to queries on how the plan would be financed ­yesterday.

• The report also detailed similar ­problems with sewage leaks.

In the 2006/7 financial year, there were 1 471 mainline blockages and these have been steadily increasing. The municipality estimates that by the end of the current financial year, there would have been 4 380 reported blockages.

“In our current financial year, we have recorded 1 410 mainline blockages in 122 days, which rounds up to 12 mainline blockages per day.

“As is clearly evident, the sanitation faults types are not as expansive as the potable water; however, the environmental and social impact associated with sanitation overflows are equally, if not more, important,” it said.

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