Update on Water Crisis in Port Alfred and surrounding areas

A Joint Operations Committee, led by Mayor Ncamiso and comprising of Municipal Manager, Rolly Dumezweni, Infrastructure Director Vithi and her department, Ward Councillors, PARRA, Tourism and Business Forum has been established to seek solutions to the current water crisis in Ndlambe.

Severe drought conditions have wreaked havoc with our water supply, and whilst the recent rains were most welcome, Port Alfred and Bathurst, areas most affected by water shortages, are facing critical water shortages.

The current water situation in Ndlambe is as follows:

Port Alfred: The latest calculations indicate that the Sarel Hayward Dam is at 7.5% capacity. This calculation does not include the excellent rainfall experienced last week in the Grahamstown area, where water flowing down the Kowie River towards Port Alfred is expected to reach the weir within the next day or two, allowing water to be pumped into the dam. Updated measurements will be taken and provided at the next meeting. It was calculated that, given current water consumption, had we not experienced rainfall, Port Alfred would be faced with, at best, a 30 day supply of water.
The effects of the recent rainfall are of course not yet known, thus Port Alfred still faces severe water shortages. Under present conditions, it is a challenge to provide a constant supply of water to the high lying areas. The Municipality has managed to augment the water supply from the East Bank dune pumps and through the central boreholes. However, both these alternative sources present problems. The East Bank dune pumps continuously trip due to high humidity in the pump station and the central boreholes are not pumping at optimum levels due to drought conditions.
With regard to the R/O plant planned for Port Alfred, tender documents for professional services of a consultant have been advertised. The bid closed and adjudication has commenced. The second tender, this time for a contractor, closes on 26th October. The intention is to commence work on the R/O plant as quickly as possible with the aim of providing 2Ml of water by 31st December.

Bathurst: After the recent rains, the Golden Ridge dam is at 25% capacity, and like Port Alfred, the high lying areas pose a problem in terms of water pressure at present capacity.
Seafield: The Mt. Wellington dam is full, however, maintenance work needs to be undertaken. The procurement process for this work is complete and is presently in the supply chain process. It is anticipated that the repairs will be completed in approximately 3 weeks. This work should pose no problem in water supply as the Municipality is presently using borehole water from van Rooyen farm.

Kenton/Bushman’s: This area is still experiencing problems. Amatola Water’s plan to supply 2.1Ml of water has not been successful. Water levels fluctuate on a daily basis as water is manufactured through a R/O process, thus levels can change overnight. Water levels at the two reservoirs are measured daily and at the time of this press release were at 81% and 74% respectively. Poor performance by Amatola Water will be escalated through KOSRA and the Municipal Manager to ministerial level.

Alexandria: Amatola Water have advised that work will recommence on contracts 14 and 15 and it is anticipated that work will be completed 6 months from December 2020. The reservoir is presently at 60% capacity. The EIA study has been completed, and the appointed contractor will commence work on 1Ml refurbishment of fish kraals and Cape Padrone. The work refers to work on both Cannon Rocks and Alexandria lines.

Way Forward:

A technical meeting has been set up by the Municipal Manager, Director Vithi and Engineers to find a workable solution to create temporary pipeline from the Kowie River to the Sarel Hayward Dam. On the suggestion that pumps should run 24/7 pumping water into the Sarel Hayward Dam, Director Vithi pointed out that it is not possible to do so, as there simply is not enough water to pump at present. Furthermore, additional exploratory boreholes have been sunk in an effort to find alternative sources of water, but have been unsuccessful.

The R/O Plant planned for Port Alfred will be fast tracked as soon as the contractor has been appointed after tender documents close on 26 October. The first part of the contract is to supply 2Ml of water with a completion date of 31 December. Thereafter a 3Ml plant will be built to bring the additional supply up to 5Ml.

The JOC will reconvene on Wednesday 21 October for a progress report.


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