Pipeline collapse threatens Durban’s entire water infrastructure further

2014-06-13 00:00

THE collapsed 200-metre bridge carrying a main water line brought down by scrap metal thieves poses a risk to the Durban’s water infrastructure.

Authorities are keen to remove the bridge on the uMgeni River near Reservoir Hills as soon as possible with concerns that it could damage the bridge running parallel to it which holds a pipe supplying 60% of the water for northern Durban.

And while eThekwini Metro water officials attempt to bring normality to the water supply in the city’s northern regions, the total cost of the fix and clean-up operation continues to spiral with 24-hour teams deployed to the site and two teams of six security guards monitoring the site.

But city water chief Neil Macleod reckons they are on track to bring stability to the city’s water infrastructure by the weekend. “We initially said we would have it repaired within a week of the collapse,” said Macleod. “We hope to beat that estimation and be ready in the next two days. What we are putting in place is a permanent solution.”

He said the demolition of the bridge, while high on the agenda, would only commence once the water line was operational.

The collapsed suspension bridge — built in the late 1950s — supplied 40% of northern Durban’s water needs to both residential and industrial areas and was the only suspension bridge used by the water department.

It is unclear what the cost of removing the bridge will be but sources believe it will be “substantial”.

“The pillar of the bridge on the northern bank poses a risk. We need to have it removed before any rains,” he said.

Clear skies are forecast until next weekend.

The bridge collapsed on Tuesday afternoon. The cause is believed to be the result of thieves having removed nine 20 mm by four-metre suspender cables.

By the time the water was turned off an estimated 30 million litres of water had been lost.

Earlier The Witness revealed that theft-related maintenance represented 50% of all maintenance work done by eThekwini Water. The repair job has to some extent been made easier. Running adjacent to the pipeline supplying 60% of northern Durban’s water is a second auxiliary pipe once put in place for future growth. This secondary pipe will be connected to the supply line which once supplied the collapsed pipe.

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