DA secures debate in Provincial Legislature on Grahamstown water crisis

Dacre Haddon MPL

Shadow MEC for Local Government

Grahamstown has been suffering from water outages caused by systemic infrastructure failure due to lack of maintenance by the Makana Municipality.  The latest outage left parts of the town, including Rhodes University, without water for about two weeks.

A debate requested by the DA to resolve the Makana water crisis will be held in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature on 12 September 2013.

Despite a reticence from the ruling party to want to debate the matter, the sustained pressure from the public and the DA in National Parliament and in the Provincial Legislature has resulted in this date being set for a debate.

While there has already been progress in solving some of the water problems in Makana, the Legislature needs to resolve on clear plans with set timeframes, funding and follow-through to ensure that this disgraceful situation never happens again.

The DA believes that Grahamstown’s water supply can be improved with five quick-win steps:

  1. A large reservoir to be built on the hill above Grahamstown (above the N2 next to the Waainek Water Treatment Works) to allow for gravity feed to all parts of Grahamstown.  Currently the Settler’s Monument, Prison, Army Base, Rhodes Post-grad village and upwards of ten Rhodes residences are above the existing reservoir’s base, which means they don’t get water until the level of the reservoir rises above their height.
  2. Re-connect the existing water supply from Jameson Dam and Milner Dam (known collectively as Slaaikraal) to the Waainek Water Treatment Works. This would permit a third source of water (in addition to the Glen Melville/Fish River supply and the Howieson’s Poort supply). This pipeline must be repaired as a matter of urgency (400m of pipe reported stolen recently) and enable the water to be treated in emergencies.  This would have a combined capacity of 649.6 Megalitres.
  3. Provide a shortened power line to the Howieson’s Poort pumps via the Thomas Baines Nature Reserve Eskom line (approximately 1km away), instead of the 15km of power line the current supply uses. The latter is susceptible to outages regularly, particularly in strong winds and is also an aging line subject to regular breakdown.
  4. Upgrade the pumps and motors at Howieson’s Poort pumping station. The two on hand are now over 60 years old.
  5. Introduce rainwater harvesting bylaws for all new construction.

It is imperative that the residents and other interested parties of Makana are part of this process and be vigorous in holding the Amatola Water Board, Cacadu District Municipality, Makana Municpality and the Legislature to regular account on progress in solving this water crisis.