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Hospital runs dry


The fire department was not able to fill hospital water tanks, as they needed to preserve their supplies if a fire broke out.

NO WATER: Pictures: Soraya Crowie

SOL PLAATJE Municipality has warned city hospitals to ensure that they have their own contingency plans in place to see them through the current water crisis, after Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital’s water supplies ran dry.

Sol Plaatje spokesperson Sello Matsie said that the municipality had given adequate notice regarding the water cuts.

“All institutions including hospitals are required to make sure that their water tanks are filled at all times and that they have sufficient reserves in the case of any eventuality. The proper management of water is imperative,” Matsie said yesterday.

Water tanks

He indicated that the fire department was not able to fill hospital water tanks, as they needed to preserve their supplies for if a fire broke out.

“The fire department is there to fight fires, not to provide water services. The water restrictions are being implemented so that the city has water supplies for longer.”

Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital had to postpone scheduled surgeries yesterday morning until 10am, when their JoJo tanks had been filled up, as no water was apparently delivered over the weekend.

The water interruptions have also impacted on the washing of soiled linen, the sterilisation of instruments and the care of dialysis patients.

The situation was made worse by the level 5 water restrictions that were implemented by Sol Plaatje Municipality, where the water was cut for 12 hours over the weekend in addition to the nightly shutdowns.

The spokesperson for the Department of Health, Lulu Mxekezo, indicated that the hospital had a contingency plan in place for the nightly shutdowns.

“Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital has an underground bulk water tank that can keep 320 000 litres of water. In addition, there are plastic bulk water tanks that contain up to 10 000 litres each, placed in strategic locations across the hospital, giving an additional 280 000 litres of bulk water storage. These water tanks are filled from the municipal water supply.”

She added that the hospital was able to run urgent and emergency operations for between 36 to 72 hours, using its own water reserves, if the main water supply was closed.

“When water supply is being stopped, contingency water-saving programmes are implemented. The hospital has sufficient linen reserves of up to two days if the laundry room is not in operation.”

The patient experience manager for Mediclinic Kimberley/Gariep, Denise Coetzee, said they were not affected by the water restrictions.

“Careful planning makes it possible for both hospitals to function as normal for at least a week without any water supply from the municipality. The aim is to keep the impact on service delivery minimal.”

Coetzee stated that Mediclinic Kimberley had a 37 500 litre water reserve and a borehole.

“The water from the borehole has been tested and is fit for human consumption. It delivers 4 000 litres per hour, while daily consumption amounts to 3 500 litres. Mediclinc Gariep has a 120 000 litre reserve in water tanks, as well as a borehole. The water from this borehole is grey water and will be used to flush toilets.”

She added that operations were continuing as usual.

“Our autoclaves work with recycled water, and the weekend water shutdowns have no effect on the sterilisation of instruments. Mediclinic Gariep is an environmentally-friendly hospital and has water-wise gardens that do not require much water to survive. Even though we make use of borehole water to irrigate the gardens, we are sensitive to the water shortages in the city. For this reason we will only water the plants when it is really necessary and are deviating from the normal watering schedule.”