‘68 hours of wasted water’

2016-04-18 12:03

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Pietermaritzburg - Frustrated residents have complained that the municipality is reacting too slowly to burst pipes.

With water gushing out of a meter in Imbali for more than 68 hours last week, while people from informal settlements leave taps running all weekend, residents say it is time for Msunduzi Municipality to increase its efficiency.

An Imbali resident, who reported a burst pipe on Friday, April 8, said he waited three days for municipal workers to attend to the gushing water. Magonondo Kubeka of Unit 18 described the experience with the municipality as an “outright defiance of the national call [to save water]”.

“I live directly opposite the municipal offices. The pipe burst and I reported it in person last Friday. Water was gushing into my property, but when I reported it I was told it would take three to four days to be fixed,” he said.

Kubeka said he had reported the leak every day for several days and pleaded with the municipality that the water, which ran like a high-pressure tap, was being wasted. “I explained to the [municipality] that this is incredible as we are being constantly instructed to save water as dams are at close-to-dry levels.

“I counted some 68 hours of wasted water flooding my yard and the street.”

He said the municipality’s delay in attending “to an emergency situation” demonstrated the lack of a sense of urgency.

Kubeka said municipal workers only fixed the leak last Monday afternoon.

Acting Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said there had been an increase in burst pipes since the start of the current water problem.

“All water leaks are a priority and our teams are working tirelessly to repair and restore water supply. There may be a few delays,” she said.

Another resident, who would not be named, complained that people living in informal settlements were being given free water, but were abusing the resource.

“How can we ratepayers save water when [people] continuously leave taps open and running for long periods? What is the municipality doing about this?” asked the resident.

Madonda said leaking standpipes continued to be a problem. However, the council had resolved to switch from twist taps to push systems, which require constant pressure on the tap for water to flow.

She said the city has two service providers to install robust push-tap systems on a trial basis, and would switch all standpipes to the new type over the next two months.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

MSUNDUZI water and sanitation manager Brenden Sivparsad explained why the city had experienced an increase in burst pipes since the start of the water crisis.

Sivparsad said air gathers in the pipes due to the system running dry because of the reduced amount of water flowing.

“If the air is not properly removed and water is reintroduced to the system, it would result in the pipe bursting,” he said.

To remove the excess air in the pipes, municipal workers have to “bleed” the system by opening the air locks to release the pressure. They then open fire hydrants to release excess water in the pipes.

“This is not clean water. It has dirt and debris in it so it is not clean water that is being wasted. If we do not do this, we will experience many more burst pipes. This is an operational rule …” he said.

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  water

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