City’s wa­ter pipes crum­ble

City to spend R50 mil­lion to re­pair age­ing in­fra­struc­ture


PI­ETER­MAR­ITZBURG’S wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion in­fra­struc­ture is crum­bling.

The city has been record­ing an av­er­age of five burst pipes a day and an av­er­age of 11 sew­er­age main­line block­ages ev­ery 24 hours.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity is now plan­ning to spend R50 mil­lion in the next fi­nan­cial year to deal with the age­ing in­fra­struc­ture. This is over and above money al­ready al­lo­cated to a sim­i­lar pro­gramme in the city’s five­year re­vival plan.

Act­ing In­fra­struc­ture Busi­ness Unit gen­eral man­ager Bren­den Siv­parsad told a Msun­duzi Mu­nic­i­pal­ity ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (Exco) meet­ing yes­ter­day that in July the busi­ness unit had recorded a to­tal of 146 burst pipes in 31 days.

“Pro­ject­ing ... burst mains for the re­main­der of the fi­nan­cial year shows a to­tal of 1 825 bursts,” he said.

Fig­ures pre­sented by Siv­parsad showed the num­ber of burst pipes had sky­rock­eted over the years, jump­ing from a mod­er­ate 608 in the 2006/07 fi­nan­cial year to 2 138 in 2016/17.

The fig­ures may be more than what is con­tained in the re­port, he said.

“It should be noted that th­ese burst mains records are di­rectly off our HEAT pro­gramme [an in­ter­nal tool used to log, track and dis­patch calls] and some­times faults that get re­ported di­rectly to op­er­a­tional staff or man­age­ment via coun­cil­lors or the pub­lic do not nec­es­sar­ily get cap­tured on HEAT.”

As­bestos ce­ment pipe­lines ac­count for 60% of the city’s en­tire wa­ter retic­u­la­tion net­work, he pointed out.

“As­bestos ce­ment pipes have a life­span of 30 years and many of th­ese pipes have reached the end of their use­ful life. This is ev­i­dent in the num­ber of bursts that are oc­cur­ring es­pe­cially in ar­eas with as­bestos ce­ment pipes,” said Siv­parsad.

He also re­vealed the city had failed to re­spond to 217 of 848 wa­ter faults re­ported to it in July this year.

Of the nine leak­ing valves re­ported dur­ing that month, only one was re­paired and of five leak­ing stand­pipes two were fixed. Only four of 31 faulty me­ters were re­paired. In July the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had also recorded 333 main­line block­ages in 31 days.

“Pro­ject­ing main­line block­ages for the re­main­der of the fi­nan­cial year shows a to­tal of 4 015,” said Siv­parsad.

The num­ber of main­line block­ages in­creased from 1 647 in 2007/08 fi­nan­cial year to 3 839 in 2016/17.

“ONE of the main con­tribut­ing fac­tors to the higher main­line block­age rates is our age­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

“It should be noted that sev­eral main­line block­ages could not be re­solved timeously as our ex­ist­ing high­pres­sure clean­ing unit is now ob­so­lete,” said Siv­parsad.

“A re­port was sub­mit­ted and ap­proved by Exco and full coun­cil in re­ spect to [the] redi­rect­ing [of] funds at [the] mid­year re­view for this spe­cialised equip­ment.

“Un­for­tu­nately no fund­ing was al­lo­cated at [the] mid­year re­view to pur­chase a new high­pres­sure clean­ing unit, re­sult­ing in this busi­ness unit hav­ing to hire one to re­solve main­line block­ages. This hire cost is R96 000 fort­nightly.”

Siv­parsad said the san­i­ta­tion busi­ness sub­unit had three tankers which are 21, 26 and 30 years old re­spec­tively “which re­sults in con­tin­u­ous down­time due to fre­quent break­downs”.

Yes­ter­day Exco ap­proved R50 mil­lion to be al­lo­cated this fi­nan­cial year to im­ple­ment an as­set man­age­ment plan.

The City will al­lo­cate R30 mil­lion for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture and R20 mil­lion to fix­ing san­i­ta­tion in­fra­struc­ture. “Fail­ure to re­new wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture will lead to con­tin­u­ous wa­ter pipe bursts, re­sult­ing in loss of wa­ter and in­ter­rup­tion to wa­ter sup­ply,” said Siv­parsad.

“Fail­ure to re­new san­i­ta­tion in­fra­struc­ture will re­sult in con­tin­u­ous sewer block­ages, which lead to raw sewage spilling into storm wa­ter drains and rivers re­sult­ing in high E.coli lev­els in our rivers. This wa­ter be­comes un­safe for the en­vi­ron­ment and hu­man con­sump­tion.”


SA Na­tional Botan­i­cal Gar­dens staff look at a wa­ter pipe burst near the en­trance to the gar­dens.

LEFT: Mar­itzburg Golf Club green­keeper Gra­ham Dick­in­son shows the swamp that was cre­ated after a pipe burst in a prop­erty next to the Club. RIGHT: KwaPata res­i­dents use a plas­tic bot­tle to stem the wa­ter from a burst pipe that had been run­ning for months to make a tap.

A leak­ing tap at Copesville.

Pam Gold­ing staff (from left) Sue Har­ri­son, Denise McGlad­dery and Cathy Koch ne­go­ti­ate the flooded road and en­trance to their of­fice after a burst pipe turned Wem­b­ley Ter­race into a river with a com­ple­men­tary water­fall.

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