Metro water department failing residents as pipe loses megaliters

By Cllr Dean Biddulph,┬áDA Metro Caucus Spokesperson – Nelson Mandela Bay:

Two weeks ago to the day, DA caucus leader Cllr Retief Odendaal and caucus spokesperson Cllr Dean Biddulph visited the Churchill main water pipeline which supplies Nelson Mandela Bay.

The oversight visit was conducted after numerous complaints were received from residents that the municipality had failed to repair a potentially catastrophic leak on the supply line at the Maitland River lagoon.

Today, we revisited the site to establish what progress had been made in respect of the repairs after Metro Spokesperson Roland Williams had published the following information on the municipal website:

“The affected pipe will be drained on Monday, 18 May 2015:
The repairs will be undertaken on Tuesday, 19 May 2015: and
The pipe will be refilled with water on Wednesday and Thursday, 20 and 21 May 2015.
The water supply system will thus be fully operational with the adequate amount of pressure by Friday, 22 May 2015.”

Upon our arrival today we were shocked to discover that, instead of having been repaired and rehabilitated, the massive leak had in fact gotten worse with an additional leak now apparent on top of the pipe.

A measurement of the outflow allowed us to calculate that the city is conservatively losing in excess of one million liters per day from this leak. This, over the time since the leak was first reported could amount to water losses in the region of 50 megaliters.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the metro water department is incapable of dealing with this kind of water crisis whilst our city remains on track for a record annual water loss in excess of R300 million this financial year.

The question now begs, who will intervene in this crisis before the city suffers a total water outage ? In this regard, the DA has approached our Shadow Minister for Water Affairs, Nosimo Balindlela, to intervene at parliamentary level.

South Africa is a water scarce country. The lack of urgency displayed by the city administration to date in addressing this leak along with other water losses is concerning – the city needs to fix the pipes and begin to treat our precious water resource with the respect it deserves.

A photo of the water leak can be found here.