Consumers across Makana are aware that the Makana Local Municipality, in collaboration with key national and provincial partners, is implementing a comprehensive rehabilitation of its aging and inadequate water supply systems in order to resolve the on-going water outages suffered by residents and business owners. The Makana Water Intervention Project, initiated by the Department of Water & Sanitation, in collaboration with key provincial partners such as the Department of Treasury & Planning, have allocated R 100 million over the period 2013/14 – 2014/15 to supportwater supply operation & maintenance and rehabilitation. The fact that the City has managed to host a number of key events in 2014, including the academic start-up, Graduation weekend, the Scifest as well as the 40th National Arts Festival without water outages, is testimony of incremental progress.
Consumers will be aware that a series of planned water shutoffs, which have resulted in some disruption of services, have been necessary across Makana since early August in order to allow the installation of new water meters. These disruptions have largely been received in good spirit by consumers as they are a necessary part of the upgrade of the water supply system.
However, it is necessary to bring to the urgent attention of residents the fact that the Makana team, in collaboration with service providers, Amatola Water and MBB, have since 8thAugust 2014 been dealing with a series of unplanned pipe bursts and other operational challenges which has had a significantly detrimental impact on the consistent supply of water to consumers. These have included:
On 8th August while dealing with a pipe burst at the Fort Brown package plant, a huge pipe was also damaged by an electrical contractor at Extension 10 at around 10h45 which could not be repaired without shutting off water supply from the reservoir. This unplanned emergency affected supply to the entire eastern side of Grahamstown, but with quick action taken, the damage was repaired by 16h30.
At the same time vandals stole critical equipment at the Botha’s Hill reservoir, which again led to disruptions in supply on the eastern side of the City, as repairs were necessary.
On 11th August, a pipe burst at Fitzroy with parts of theCity also affected by an electricity outage. After rapid repair, the Fitzroy pipe went back into operation at 14h00 on the same day.
On 16th August, the City was hit by another unplanned outage when flushing of the Glen Melville Dam led to high levels of silt entering the water supply system at the James Kleynhans plant, which then had to be shut off to prevent this water reaching consumers.
On 17th August pipe bursts at Ilchester Road, Moser Close and Lancedown requiring immediate attention.
On 18th August vandals once again stole equipment at Botha’s Hill leading to disruption for consumers on the Eastern side supplied by this infrastructure.
However, by far the greatest series of challenges occurred early on Wednesday, 20th August when a major pipe burst occurred on the main water pipeline to Howisonspoort – a critical component of the Grahamstown supply system - leading to Amatola Water immediately deploying a repair team to resolve the situation. The team was on-site before 09h00. With water reserves in the lay dams in place, no disruption to supply was anticipated. It was anticipated thatthese repairs would be completed by midnight, however,owing to a concrete block supporting the pipeline needing to be jackhammered, this led to the time of completion to beextended, to allow for this equipment to be brought to site (please note, this that Howisonspoort is located in the Thomas Baines Nature reserve, in fairly inhospitable terrain). ByThursday morning, the levels of the lay dams were running dangerously low, and interruption of supply seemed unavoidable. However, it was decided to use the town filters to fill the lay dams as an air valve had recently been replaced on that line, making this a “Plan C” possibility. By 9h00 thefirst of two required jackhammers had arrived on site and by 17h54 on Thursday, 21st August the repairs were completed. The team had then been working non-stop for 33 hours!
However, by midday on Friday, 22nd August disaster struck again, when the repaired joint on the bulk pipe line toHowisonspoort burst again, and with levels of water running very low in all reservoirs, supply disruptions were once againexperienced by consumers. The pipe was repaired by 21h00 on Friday night, only to burst again at 22h00. This third burstaffected the entire Western side of Grahamstown. By 21h46 on Saturday, this repair was finalised.
However, on Sunday morning, the joint burst again, effectively nullifying any further supply from Howisonspoort, which is having a significant impact on consumers. At present, emergency water supplies are being trucked in by the municipality’s two water tankers to the hospitals, communities in the high-lying areas and schools. Rhodes and the army base are using their own tankers to provide temporary assistance on their sites. Two additional water tankers from Amatola Water will be operational in the City by Tuesday morning.
This third pipe burst has meant that a radical and immediate solution to the problems on the bulk pipeline to Howisonspoort is required. This solution is to replace two (FLANGE) joints – which burst too quickly under pressure – with welded joints. In order to do this, the concrete casing which supports the pipeline must be broken out, so that the welding can happen. The concrete casing when it is replaced will also be beefed up to ensure that the pipeline is able to withstand the pressure of the water in the pipeline. These emergency repairs will be completed by Thursday morning, 28th August 2014.
Until this time, it will be necessary to balance (share) water across the east and western systems of the City, in order to ensure that residents have access to even a reduced level of supply. To do this, water from Botha’s Hill will be fed also into the Intermediate and Low level reservoirs on the Western side of the City. The High level reservoir will be fed from the Old Town filters pump station (water coming from Milner & Jameson dams) in order to supply the army base, correctional services, high-lying communities, the industrial area and part of Rhodes university. Consumers can expect a 50% usage at this time, and are urged to use water very sparingly. At night (therefore Tuesday & Wednesday night) consumers will only have access to 25% of their normal consumption, as it will be necessary to give the reservoirs time to fill up.
It is anticipated that by late on Wednesday afternoon (27th August) some areas will again begin to receive supply from Howisonspoort, and that the water supply situation in Makana should be back to normal by the morning of Thursday, 28thAugust 2014.
The Makana Local Municipality highly regrets this inconvenience and remains committed, together with its partners in national and provincial government, to finding a long-term solution to the water supply challenges of our beloved City.