URGENT UPDATE: Ndlambe water crisis

SANDY BIRCH, Sunshine Coast Tourism

LONG QUEUES: Thirsty people form ilines to collect water.
Picture: Mkhuseli Sizani

The present water situation as led to unabated drought conditions together with consistently high user consumption has contributed to dire water shortages, particularly in Port Alfred and Bathurst.

The recent rains raised the level of the Golden Ridge Dam in Bathurst, but had no measurable effect on the Sarel Hayward Dam in Port Alfred, as the water flowing over the weir is negligible.

A formal JOC (joint operations committee) comprising Ndlambe mayor Khuluwa Ncamiso, Municipal Manager Rolly Dumezweni, the Ndlambe Infrastructure Directorate, PARRA (Port Alfred Residents and Ratepayers Association), councillors, tourism and the business forum has been established to find solutions to the current water crisis.

In addition, a meeting of independent and highly skilled technical experts also met on Monday, complemented by the Infrastructure Department, to find ways to raise the capacity of water production for Port Alfred. This technical team intend to complete an audit of the water infrastructure system for Port Alfred, identifying problems and making recommendations as to how water production can be optimised. Based on these findings, the municipal manager will lead the procurement processes to remedy any shortcomings.

Area reports are as follows

  • Port Alfred: The Sarel Hayward Dam is at 7% capacity. The recent rains had no impact on water flow to the weir, thus water cannot be pumped from the weir to the Sarel Hayward dam at present. The central belt boreholes and East Bank dune pumps are not producing optimally, and ways are being sought to optimise water production from these alternative sources. Based on current consumption levels, Port Alfred has water reserves for 18 – 20 days. To mitigate taps drying up, a strict water schedule will be introduced as from 23 October 2020.

The schedule for the week, indicating when water will be switched off will thus be:

Saturday October 24 – East Bank 6am 12 noon

Sunday October 25- West Bank – Entire day

Monday October 26 – Station Hill and Marina – 6am 12 noon

Tuesday October 27 – Thornhill and Ndlovini – Entire day

Wednesday October 28 – East Bank 6am 12 noon

Thursday October 29 – West Bank – Entire day

Friday October 30 – Station Hill and Marina – 6am 12 noon

With regard to the R/O plant, tender documents for the appointment of a contractor close on October 26. There has been a request to extend the tender date, however this has been rejected. Bids will take approximately three-weeks to assess before the contractor is appointed, therefore work will realistically only commence on the plant mid-November. It is hoped that the plant will be in operation by the end of December 2020.

  • Bathurst: The Golden Ridge dam is at 25% capacity – recent rains raised the level from a previously recorded 15% to the present 25%.
  • Seafield: The Mt. Wellington dam is 100% full. At present, the dam is not being utilised, as repairs and maintenance work is being undertaken. Boreholes from the van Rooyen farm are supplying water for current consumption, and should the boreholes cease to produce 100% requirement, the dam can be utilised for any shortfall.
  • Kenton/Bushman’s: A Mr Mabulu of Amatola Water confirmed that the R/O plant was not producing the expected amount of water. The service provider has been requested to find solutions to the problem as it is believed that there are design faults in the plant. Mabulu confirmed that he would request Amatola to formally respond to these issues.
  • Alexandria: Stephen Fick reported that leaks in the older infrastructure on the Cannon Rocks/Boknes line are being monitored. The situation at Alexandria is more critical where 1.2Ml per day is presently being produced. A contractor has been appointed and will be on-site by October 26 with repairs expected to be completed by December 18.

Way forward

1.1 A water schedule has been introduced for Port Alfred.

1.2 Amatola Water will report back on the Kenton plant by next week.

1.3 JOC will reconvene every Wednesday at 10am

As this is a water-scarce area, residents are encouraged to install water tanks.

Submitted by Sunshine Coast Tourism for Ndlambe Municipality


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