Still in ICU: Wartburg ‘in critical state’

2013-02-04 00:00

SHAMI Harichunder, Umgeni Water’s Corporate Stakeholder manager, warned that the Wartburg system was still in recovery mode with all supply nodes receiving water effective by January 22. However, it was still in a critical state as even small shocks in the system tended to destroy the gains made.

He listed several actions and plans which are being implemented to prevent failures of this nature and magnitude occurring again.

This includes a project to renew or upgrade the air valves to modern technology that will be implemented as a matter of urgency. Umgeni Water was engaging with uMgungundlovu District Municipality on how best this could be achieved. There are also plans to accelerate the upgrading of the Mshwati Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme.

Harichunder explained the Wartburg system’s daily demands matched the system’s capacity and it required two days to recover, with the exception of Bruyns Hill to Swayimane, which takes about five days.

He said frequent power failures introduced air in Umgeni Water’s pipelines which developed transient pressures that result in pipe failure. This was compounding by ineffective valves systems installed in Umgeni Water’s pipelines to deal with air entrapment.

He said while resuscitating the system, which had a lot of trapped air, the Umgeni water maintenance crews experienced a high number of pumps tripping due to low flow. These also contributed significantly to prolonged recovery time.

The plans to fix these systemic problems include implementing the Mshwati Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme which, when functional, will remove supply constraints and also meet organic growth in this supply node of 2,5% year on year. The current average daily demand matches the installed infrastructure capacity, but will soon exceed it. He said three generators had been deployed in the system when the Eskom power failures became persistent.

Plans are in place to source a mobile generator with sufficient capacity to run bigger pump stations like Wartburg. In the meantime, Harichunder appealed to residents to continue to use water sparingly.

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