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Water ‘nightmare’ is over

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The municipality had waited for areas of Galeshewe and Roodepan to fill up before opening the Newton Reservoir, in order to prevent further water losses.

DESTROYED: A shack at the back of a house in Patosi Street Galeshewe burned down yesterday. Nobody was injured during the fire but the owners lost all their belongings. Picture: Danie van der Lith

KIMBERLEY residents yesterday breathed a collective sigh of relief when water returned to the city’s taps after a four-day shutdown.

Residents yesterday entered their fifth morning without water, after the Sol Plaatje Municipality completely shut down the water supply to the entire city on Thursday evening, when pumping from the Vaal River at the Riverton Purification Works and supply of water from the Newton Reservoir was stopped to allow for work to be done at the new R50 million pump station at Riverton.

Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said yesterday that they also used this opportunity to complete essential repair work to the city’s water network, which included the fixing of leaking pipes.

Water supply returned to the Galeshewe and Roodepan areas by around 9am yesterday morning, while the rest of the city had running water in their taps by around 1pm.

In Galeshewe, residents were ecstatic to again have running water to use for drinking, cooking and washing but added that it had been a “hellish four days” without water.

“It was a nightmare to not have water. We struggled to even complete the most basic tasks, like washing, cooking or even just flushing the toilet. Now the work begins on the huge pile of laundry that had been gathering since the water outages,” said Galeshewe resident Maria Nxeba.

For David Phakedi, also from Galeshewe, washing his car was the first task to be undertaken after water returned to taps.

“My car is filthy from the recent rain and mud. That is the first thing I will clean once I see water in my taps,” Phakedi said.

By yesterday morning, most of the water storage tanks provided by the municipality to supply residents with water were already empty, with residents, many sweaty, dirty and irritated after four days without water, again showing up at their places of work yesterday without having had a proper bath or shower.

Matsie said that the municipality had decided to gradually start opening the Newton Reservoir from about 7am yesterday morning.

He added that extra caution was taken to slowly release water from the Newton Reservoir in order to ensure that the levels at the reservoir did not drop too drastically and even empty the dams, as well as to prevent pipe bursts.

While Matsie indicated that only isolated bursts were experienced after the release of water from Newton Reservoir, several residents took to social media to post pictures of burst pipes in their suburbs.

Water had started being pumped from Riverton at around 9pm on Monday evening but the municipality had first waited for the areas of Galeshewe and Roodepan (which feed straight from Riverton) to fill up before opening the Newton Reservoir, in order to prevent further water losses.

Matsie indicated that the Newton Reservoir holds about 225 million litres of water, while the city uses about 1 million litres per hour.

He expressed his gratitude to residents and businesses (many of whom assisted with supplying water) for their patience during the shutdown and added that while their frustrations were understood, the process would result in an improved situation with regards to water supply.

Meanwhile, residents from Galeshewe Number 2 blamed the shortage of water for the destruction of a shack that was destroyed by a fire around 11am yesterday morning.

The homeowner, Anna Gaserotse, said that the fire broke out at her tenants’ shack at around 11am.

The shack and its contents were completely destroyed during the blaze, as residents did not have water in their taps to extinguish the fire.

The tenants, a couple, were at work at the time of the incident and it is still unclear how the fire started, as the shack was locked.

Gaserotse said neighbours tried their best to extinguish the fire with buckets of water that they managed to collect from a municipal water storage tank but their efforts were in vain and the shack burned to the ground.

She added that some of the shack’s contents could have been saved if there had been water in the taps in the yard.

“Because of this water shutdown, this couple has now lost everything they owned – their money, their clothes, their identity documents and everything else that was inside,” Gaserotse said.