15 March 2019

South Africa: Water Woes Continue in Makhanda

The pressure to keep water in the taps of historic Makhanda remains high as authorities deal with infrastructure challenges and acts of vandalism.

And while recent rains had a positive impact on one of the town's supply dams, it wasn't significant.

On Thursday, Mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa said he was happy to announce the increase at Howieson's Poort dam from 18.3% to 24%, however, the rain seemed to have had no impact on Settler's dam.

The Waainek Water Treatment Works was not producing at full capacity because work was being done on the filters.

"Only four, instead of six, filters are in use because a contractor is busy refurbishing them. Consequently, water supply on the western side will be intermittent."

Gift of the Givers have been supplying bottled water to residents since February.

News24 previously reported that experts had devised a plan to save the western end of Makhanda, previously Grahamstown, from disaster: getting the James Kleynhans water treatment plant to produce 10 megalitres of clean water per day to supply the west and the east.

With current challenges, it could only produce between five and six megalitres per day.

Mpahlwa said only one pump was operational at present, citing mechanical issues with two other pumps that would take a bit of time to fix.

He said Phase 1 of the James Kleynhans plant was 90% complete and was anticipated to be completed by May this year.

"The contractor is expected to commence Phase 2 in May 2019. A portion of Phase 3 and 4 has been included in the Phase 2 emergency work. The balance of Phase 3 and 4 tender will be out in October or November and construction is expected to start in January 2020," he said.

On a positive note, a concrete reservoir was commissioned in Fort Brown and residents should not expect any water supply challenges.

Additional communal taps were installed in Seven Fountains and additional storage of four 5 000-litre tanks were installed in the area.

The mayor shared that vandalism and ongoing internal, labour-related issues were making the water situation worse.

They opened a case of theft and vandalism and launched an internal investigation after one of the depots was broken into.

"Thieves stole petrol, oil and the mounted step ladder that is used for throttling at Botha's Hill. The vehicle of the plumber who was assisting at the plant was also vandalised," he said.

"Alternative arrangements were made to ensure that throttling was taking place every evening at both plants, starting yesterday, March 13."

Bottled water was being delivered to schools.

The Gift of the Givers continued drilling boreholes across town.

"They are still expected to drill boreholes in the following areas: four near the Botha's Hill reservoir, one at the Cathedral and one at the Waainek prison."

The humanitarian organisation had also sourced 32 JoJo tanks, which had already arrived in town, and two water tanks for regular water deliveries.

Mpahlwa said the tanks would be put up for residents to collect water once the filtration system at the Rhodes and Ntsika boreholes were operating.

He implored residents to continue with their water-saving efforts.


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