Status update: water and sewerage infrastructure

Talk of the Town asked Ndlambe Infrastructure Director Dr Noluthando Vithi for the latest updates on some of the key infrastructure projects in the Municipality.

Thornhill water tower, Port Alfred

The 2.6ML elevated concrete reservoir next to Titi Jonas Hall is designed to evetually have treated water pumped up into it that will be gravity fed to Nemato and Thornhill.

Funding for the tower included R57 million from the Office of the Premier’s Small Town Revitalisation Grant in the 2018/19 financial year.

The project was due to be completed in March 2022, but work on it stopped when the previous contractor, Mamlambo Civils, went into liquidation, in mid-2022.

Last week this project was handed over to the new contractor, LRC Civils. When the project was put on hold, in 2022, it was said to be 80% complete and it was estimated it would take three months to finish. Vithi said that work still to be completed included sealing the inside of the reservoir, and outside scaffolding. Providing there are no unexpected problems, the Thornhill tower and pump construction could be complete by July this year.

Sewerage infrastructure upgrade, Port Alfred (‘Wharf Street project’)

Frequent sewage spills due to sewerage pump stations being temporarily inoperational. A ‘benign’ cause of this has at times been loadshedding; however, the biggest problem has been vandalism by mmetal thieves.

“Three pump stations have been repaired many times, only to be vandalised again,” Vithi told TOTT.

These sewerage system failures, along with drought conditions (less flushing) have in turn affected the viability of the QFS 5 megalitre waste- and seawater reclamation plant: it was designed to process 3ML of waste water from the sewerage works, and 2ML of seawater to form a significant part of the water supply for a growing Port Alfred.

Single pump station

Eliminating the frequently failing pump stations by gravity-feeding sewage to a new sewage pump station next to the Nuwater reverse osmosis plant. This single pump station will then pump sewage directly to the Port Alfred Waste Water Treatment Works (thus also unlocking the reclamation plant).

Having the critical infrastructure and backup generator in one location will make it easier to secure.


The project was delayed because the contractor was not up to the task, and SMMEs appointed, as per the municipality’s mandate, had not responded to mentorship and guidance.

In a recent council meeting, municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni said the contractor now on the job was the best in the province.

Further delays were the result of the terrain: an environmentally sensitive and unstable wetland. Unpredictable water ingress (because it’s a wetland), plus rain had further delayed progress.

Current status

The concrete works are close to completion.

“There has been a lot of progress since the new contractor started. The sewerage line will run behind the Wharf Street businesses, ion the provincial road,” Vithi said.

The estimated time for completion is November 2024.


Alexandria sewerage upgrade

The refurbishment of Alexandria’s sewage ponds is in the budget for the coming financial year.

Ongoing water outages and shortages across Ndlambe


Port Alfred

Parts of Nemato go without water for long periods. Vithi says this is because the existing reservoir no longer has the capacity to serve rapidly expanding formal and informal development in the area.

The solution for this is a) reclaiming water through the two reverse osmosis plants (1ML and 2ML), and eventually the QFS reclamation plant; and improving delivery to the higher-lying areas of Nemato through the Thornhill water tower.

“We just have to bite the bullet and do what we’ve been appointed to do,” Vithi said.



Talk of the Town has published Ndlambe Municipality’s statement regarding the Bushmans reverse osmosis (RO) plant on our website:

The plant was to be handed over by Amatola Water to Ndlambe Municipality as per a Council resolution; however, Vithi says, “It’s not as easy as that.”

Before ownership could be transferred, it had to be established who owned it in the first place. The plant was a ministerial project and an opinion from the Department of Water and Sanitation will determine what happens next. Meanwhile, Amatolka Water remains the implementing agent until the transfer process is concluded.

Section 5 of the plant has had issues, Vithi said. “They were wqaiting for parts from Joburg to repair it.”

Amatola Water’s CEO and director of operations would be visiting the plant this week to ensure progress on restoring the supply.

“The bottom line is that production does not equal the demand,” VIthi said. “And production of water will not increase any time soon: we need to secure funds to refurbish the plant before it operates fully.”



The water challenges here are ageing infrastructure (the reticulation hasn’t been refurbished or changed for the past 30 years), and limited supply through boreholes and natural springs.




The water treatment plant has been refurbished.

“There is as small line to complete before we commission it,” Vithi said.

That final stage will cost R5 million. The municipality has applied for this under the Water Infrastructuure Services Grant (WSIG).

“If that business plan is approved, the refurbishment should be completed by June 2025,” Vithi said.

You can find out what projects are in the pipeline by reading the Projects Register in the 2023..24 IDP:

  • This article was first published in Talk of the Town, March 21, 2024. The newspaper serving the communities of Ndlambe and the Sunshine Coast, with a weekly wrap of Makhanda news, is available at stores from early on Thursdays.