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Kimberley’s water crisis sparks concern

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Concern over a total collapse of the city’s water grid have been raised following nightly water shutdowns that started more than a month ago.

Major freshwater leaks are causing major losses. Picture: Supplied

CONCERN over a total collapse of the city’s water grid have been raised following nightly water shutdowns that started more than a month ago.

DA councillor Ockie Fourie said they have detected at least 13 major freshwater leaks.

“Given that we were not able to inspect certain areas due to marshy conditions and reed overgrowth, there are probably many more. This is in addition to the hundreds of medium to small potable water leaks across the city,” said Fourie.

“One of the leaks from a pipeline at the Newton Reservoir has been flooding sporting facilities at Northern Cape High School for the past 13 years. It is causing extensive damage to the swimming pool, netball courts, field and school infrastructure.”

He added that there was another unattended leak at the Riverton pump station’s purification plant.

“A water pump and sandbags are being used to mitigate the effects of flooding at the pump house.

“Water is also gushing out from an off-shoot of the 600 millimetre supply line to farmers adjacent to the N12. Lakes of freshwater in the veld are testament to the large volumes of water that are going to waste.”

Fourie stated that 11 of the leaks would require a full water shutdown.

“Residents are feeling the effects of the delayed major repair work, given the need for nightly water shutdowns. If repair work does not take place very soon, residents may face a disaster by way of an unscheduled water shutdown.

“Failure to comply with deadlines for the water upgrade and repair project is also in violation of set grant conditions and could cause the municipality to risk losing the R2 billion allocation from the Water Services Infrastructure Grant.”

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Steyn, said that the explanation of the nightly water shutdowns being due to load shedding, according to Sol Plaatje Municipality, was “nonsensical”.

“The water supply has never previously been an issue during advanced stages of load shedding.

“The water has been cut erratically at night for the past five weeks which points to bigger problems on the water pipeline between Riverton and Kimberley.

“The municipality must explain the pools of water that collected around trenches near the old Supermix and behind Lerato Park.”

She added that the lack of security at Newton Reservoir, which is a key installation point, left the site vulnerable to cable theft, theft of equipment and vandalism.

“There appear to be no contingency plans in place. Business would like a truthful explanation as to why the nightly shutdowns are being implemented. Due to a lack of maintenance, massive amounts of water is being wasted. Businesses and residents have to now contend with no water or electricity.”

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Thoko Riet said the local authority was aware of major leaks on the bulk water infrastructure.

“Some of these leaks were part of work to be done during the planned water interruption in May that did not proceed. The municipality is planning a water interruption to address all these leaks. Repairs require detailed planning, extensive communication and stakeholder engagements. This will take place as soon as the actual date for the water interruption has been determined,” said Riet.

She explained that periodic water shutdowns and supply interruptions would continue until the water infrastructure upgrade and refurbishment programme, through the budget facility for infrastructure, was concluded.

“Water supply interruptions should be expected. They will, however, differ in intensity as the programme progresses. Sol Plaatje residents are urged to be patient and co-operative during this restoration period.”

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