Day Zero: Race on to avoid dry taps as Nelson Mandela Bay fails to make target of fixing water leaks

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The Churchill dam in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2018, when Eastern Cape faced a similar drought problem.
The Churchill dam in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2018, when Eastern Cape faced a similar drought problem.
Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Lulama Zenzile
  • Around 1 400 of the 3 000 water leaks in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro have been repaired.
  • The municipality has throttled water supply from one dam in a bid to stretch water resources.
  • Six boreholes have been drilled by Gift of the Givers to augment the metro's water supply.

Around 1 400 water leaks have been fixed in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro this week, as officials desperately work to avert taps running dry.

On Monday, the municipality estimated that there was a backlog of more than 3 000 leaks that needed to be fixed. This comes as dam levels in the metro hover around 12%.

The municipality set out to repair all the leaks this week, in a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and agreement with municipal contractors.

The municipality's Luvuyo Bangazi previously told News24 water leaks were a "big problem" and accounted for a significant amount of the water loss.

READ | Nelson Mandela Bay facing backlog of 3 000 water leaks as Day Zero looms

He added that ageing infrastructure and vandalism were some of the reasons for the leaks.

This weekend, the municipality will reduce flow from one of its dams in an attempt to stretch out its water reserves. The municipality said it would reduce consumption from Churchill Dam from 60 megalitres daily, to 25 megalitres.

At the current consumption rate, the dam would only have enough water to last until Tuesday. The municipality will also be opening communal taps in affected areas.

Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers has drilled six boreholes and is in the process of drilling two more to augment the municipality's water supply.

The organisation wants to drill 30 boreholes, with the aim of adding 15 megalitres per week to the system.

"We've brought in our staff from East London, a second drilling machine, additional hydrologists to mark out various sites at schools, clinics and hospitals – together with full co-operation from the municipality, who are handing over their dormant boreholes at strategic locations for us to resuscitate – install pumps, connect electricity, set up JoJo tanks on concrete blocks, lay water pipes, and spread water to multiple communities," said Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

Sooliman said through these additional processes they hoped to augment the system with many more millions of litres per week.

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