Metro declares war on leaks

Plumber Tonderai Nyangombe, from Alex Maintenance, examines the furrow diverting the flow from the bulk water pipe leak in the veld just below Kuyga
WHAT A WASTE: Plumber Tonderai Nyangombe, from Alex Maintenance, examines the furrow diverting the flow from the bulk water pipe leak in the veld just below Kuyga
Image: WERNER HILLS

The metro launched its water disaster fightback plan in Kuyga, Greenbushes on Tuesday with the focus on a burst bulk water pipe which has been losing thousands of litres an hour for the past month.

On Tuesday morning, the water was welling out at a point in the litter-strewn veld below the Kuyga Community Hall directly over the northern areas-Chelsea pipeline and flowing briskly down a furrow towards Parson’s Vlei.

Leading an entourage of media and community and political representatives, Nelson Mandela Municipality mayoral committee member Andile Lungisa picked his way through the gunge, briefly examined the situation and then gave one of the metro’s new plumbing contractors, Alex Maintenance, the go-ahead to get stuck in.

He said indications were the leak was not on one of the smaller service lines, as they were hoping.

“It looks like it is a bulk line and if that is the case we will communicate with the community and switch off the flow to allow the contractor to fix it.

“But they will start investigating now, and then work as long as it takes to finish the job.”

Lungisa said the seven plumbing companies appointed by the metro, working together with municipal teams, had been deployed to fix leaks across the city.

“These leaks are a challenge for us so we are waging war against them.

“Since the contractors were deployed 2½ weeks ago, they have already fixed 710 leaks.”

Thousands of litres an hour have been flowing from a bulk water pipe leak in Kuyga. The water was fanning across the veld into people’s homes until a furrow was dug to divert it
LOST TO THE SYSTEM: Thousands of litres an hour have been flowing from a bulk water pipe leak in Kuyga. The water was fanning across the veld into people’s homes until a furrow was dug to divert it
Image: WERNER HILLS

According to Lungisa, the 11,000 leaks across Nelson Mandela Bay, highlighted in the metro’s annual report and presented in January to the council and subsequently to the infrastructure and engineering portfolio committee, had since been reduced to 7,000.

Further inroads needed to be made, however, which was why the metro had launched a new drive to plug the plague of leaks.  

He said the Kuyga leaks were the result of old and frail infrastructure, poor construction in those areas where state housing had replaced shacks, and small-scale cattle farmers deliberately digging into pipelines to create watering points for their animals.

“We can’t have cattle drinking purified water meant for people so besides fixing the leaks we will be talking to these cattle owners and trying to find a solution.”

Asked why it had taken the metro so long to launch its fierce leaks offensive — with the Bay’s overall dam level now at just 20% — Lungisa said the metro had not been tardy.

“The wheel is rolling. The car is moving.”

Ward 40 DA councillor Jason Grobbelaar said he had reported the bulk water line leak a month ago after an alert from the Kuyga community.

“At that stage there were no plumbers available to fix it.”

He had monitored the situation and his understanding until now was that the municipality was going to tackle it together with the even larger leak further up the line once the necessary valves had arrived this week, he said.

“At one stage the water was pushing across the veld into the nearby houses so I got the municipality to dig the furrow to divert it away.”

 

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