’Waterless’ taps to end business

2018-03-08 06:00

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A sudden drop in water pressure and a host of contaminants clogging the filtration and reverse osmosis purification system, could soon force Absolutely Water owner Jürgen Will to close shop.

This after supplying purified water to the community of Jeffreys Bay for the past 13 years without any major purification problems.

According to Will, water production and the production of reverse osmosis dropped with a staggering 80% over the last three months, leading to a loss of potential sales of some 60Kl due to wanton supply to their relatively large customer base. They now frequently have to close their doors long before noon, creating embarrassment and customer disappointment. However, the root cause is out of their control.

He says, “The borehole supply water pressure dropped from an already low 2.4 bar to 0.6 bar. We used to be able to produce around 400 litres of water per hour, but constraints on municipal water supply, were evident on lower flow rate - contributing to production constraint as the reverse osmosis pressure pumps no longer operated optimally. This impediment was quickly overcome by the positioning of an intermediate holding tank with a dedicated pressure pump.”

Will says, “Engineering staff from the muni-cipality attributes the low water pressure to the rusting of several panels of the approximately 20m high elevated municipal holding tank, serving the greater deal of Wavecrest.

The municipality has therefore resorted to bypassing this elevated tank and simply going the gravity feed route.”

Adding insult to injury, is the poor water quality currently obtained since the commissioning of the Wavecrest borehole water cla-rification plant.

“The quality of the water is appalling,” says Will. “The water was independently tested, and found to contain high levels of calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, calcium bicarbonate and manganese.

“To eliminate these contaminants, we use numerous pre-filtration trains, whereafter 12 special purifying membranes are engaged. Since the clarification plant came into operation, these membranes are all progressively clogged up within 10 days, causing a major drop in production.

“Upon opening some of them, a white and greyish hard powder and full mesh membrane scaling were evident. These membranes normally had a service life of up to a year.”

Will now considers legal action in the event of negligence leading to the demise of his business.

Freddy Campher, Portfolio Councillor for Infrastructure and Engineering, says, “We can assure residents that the water is safe to drink. Water from the plant is tested weekly so as to ensure the quality is up to the required standard.

“The water pressure to the top section of Wavecrest is, however, problematic as the water tower at the treatment works had to be taken off-line. The tower is very rusted, leading to heavy water losses, more so than we can afford in this time of drought.

“Money was put aside on the budget to replace the tower but had to be re-allocated for the drilling of boreholes so as to help ensure that Jeffreys Bay and our other towns don’t run out of water. It is one of various projects that had to be put on hold because of the drought.

“We apologise sincerely to those businesses amd households affected by the low water pressure.

“The water tower will be replaced as soon as possible but, at present, Council’s top priority has to be ensuring water security for all households.”

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