Something never mentioned in the water crisis updates from Ndlambe Municipality is the use of fire hydrants to extract water to cart to other areas.
Since early last year to very recently, water tankers were extracting water several times a day from hydrants around Port Alfred, especially from a one in Atherstone Road, and also at the Girl Guide Hall, outside the magistrate’s court and in Bank Lane.
It is understandable that tankers would fill up in the CBD area, as the low-lying areas in Port Alfred were least affected by water shortages. The prodigious use of the hydrant in Atherstone Road is more of a mystery, as sometimes tankers were somehow extracting water from that hydrant when the surrounding neighbourhood had no water coming out of their taps.
One of the most affected areas on the west bank is Forest Downs. Even though there is a municipal reservoir on farmland next to Forest Downs, the pressure has been too low to reach it, and so Forest Downs residents have been without water even after flow was restored to much of the west bank.
Also, the municipality never actually explained where the water was being taken, we were just assured it was to “areas that need it”. And this is in spite of water running out on the entire west bank for several weeks. Obviously residents needed water there too.
Last week a resident in Kenton-on-Sea told me the municipality has been taking water from fire hydrants in Kenton too.
He wondered where water was being taken to. Also, he was of the view it would be more practical to take this water directly from the RO plant in Kenton, so why drain from the hydrants?
Another resident said water trucks have been carting water out of Kleinemonde daily. One or more trucks with 15,000 litres capacity filling up at what she said appeared to be a pump station near Fletcher Road. A resident living near the pump station said the truck starts as early as 5.30am sometimes and does a few trips.
The residents in the higher areas of Kleinemonde have had many issues with water pressure, or no water at times. They believe the system cannot cope with the draining.
Municipal spokesperson Cecil Mbolekwa provided the following response: “With the current water situation the municipality had no options but to use every available water resource in the municipal jurisdiction to supply other areas, and the most affected areas at this time are Port Alfred and Bathust.”
He said trucks had been carting water to fill communal water tanks in Nemato and Bathust.
“The Kleinemonde community are so fortunate that at least the dam levels [there] are reasonable. Kenton-on-Sea, Boknes and Kleinemonde are areas that are assisting with water at this stage, and this is unavoidable,” he said.
– Jon Houzet