Grahamstown water crisis spreads to west of city


FOR not the first time in the past couple of years, Grahamstown is experiencing a water supply problem, but the latest crisis, as it is termed by Makana Municipality, comes on the eve of the 2016 National Arts Festival that gets underway in Grahamstown today.

Initially only the eastern part of the city was affected, and municipal spokesperson Yoliswa Ramokolo said: “Grahamstown West still has water, thus the (National Arts) Festival will not be affected.”

But after a power outage at the Howieson’s Poort pump station on Tuesday the whole of Grahamstown was without water. The station feeds the reservoirs on the western side of town.

On the southern outskirts of “Festival City” is a water spring, and on each occasion there is a water supply problem, residents flock to the spring to fill large bottles and other containers.

At one stage on Monday afternoon this week, more than 20 vehicles packed the spring’s parking area, with numerous local residents awaiting their turn to fill their containers.

The latest crisis on Sunday saw senior Makana Municipality officials rushing to the James Kleynhans waterworks some 20km from town on the Fort Beaufort road, where a worker arriving for work had found the pump station flooded.

All three major water pumps, as well as a number of smaller pumps, were submerged. The three main pumps were removed and taken to East London for drying out purposes and repairs where necessary.

Grahamstown receives its water supply from two sources – from dams up north via the James Kleynhans water purification works, and which feeds the eastern parts of the city, and from Settlers Dam via the Waainek water purification works that feeds the western parts of the city.

Meanwhile, investigations are underway to determine the cause of the problem at James Kleynhans waterworks, and the effect of the damage.

While the eastern parts of Grahamstown have been worst hit by the latest crisis, the western parts were mostly unaffected, although there have been reports of shortages and low pressure in some western areas.

However, these have been caused by work currently being carried out on asbestos water pipe connections by contractors in the Somerset Street and African Street areas.

Meanwhile, Makana Municipality has called on residents to conserve water.