WASCO as­sures pub­lic on wa­ter qual­ity

Lesotho Times - - News - Mo­halenyane Phakela

THE Wa­ter and Sewage Com­pany’s (WASCO) has de­nied re­ports that it de­ployed un­der-qual­i­fied en­gi­neers to op­er­ate the Me­to­long Dam and Wa­ter plant re­sult­ing in poor qual­ity wa­ter be­ing sup­plied to res­i­dents in Maseru, Mazenod, Roma, Morija and Tey­ateya­neng.

WASCO in­sisted that its en­gi­neers un­der­went a rig­or­ous train­ing ex­er­cise and are suit­ably qual­i­fied.

The com­pany also said it had over­come the chal­lenges that had seen res­i­dents be­ing sup­plied with wa­ter that was dis­coloured and also con­tained blood worms.

“WASCO wishes to in­form its cus­tomers in Maseru, Morija, Roma and TY that fol­low­ing weeks of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing chal­lenges in the treat­ment of man­ganese at the Me­to­long Treat­ment Works (MWTW), a break­through has been achieved and wa­ter qual­ity has been re­stored to nor­mal and/or de­sired lev­els,” WASCO said in a state­ment this week.

“This suc­cess is at­trib­uted to weeks of hard work in chang­ing some of the de­sign el­e­ments and tack­ling the op­er­a­tional chal­lenges at the Treat­ment Works.”

Some in­ter­nal sources within the com­pany had laid the blame for the poor wa­ter qual­ity on WASCO’S al­leged de­ci­sion to em­ploy un­der-qual­i­fied en­gi­neers to op­er­ate the Me­to­long Dam and Wa­ter plant.

The wa­ter plant was con­structed by a Chi­nese state-owned com­pany hy­dropower en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion com­pany, Si­no­hy­dro, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of Me­to­long Author­ity.

The Me­to­long programme is the first phase of the Le­sotho Low­lands Wa­ter Sup­ply Scheme which aims to ul­ti­mately sup­ply wa­ter to all the com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing within the low­lands of Le­sotho.

The first phase of the M5 bil­lion project be- gan sup­ply­ing wa­ter to Mazenod, Roma and Morija in Septem­ber 2014 while Tey­ateya­neng and Maseru be­gan re­ceiv­ing wa­ter from the same plant in 2015.

The Me­to­long Author­ity handed over the plant to WASCO in 2015 and ac­cord­ing to com­pany sources, WASCO was ad­vised by the for­mer to send its en­gi­neers for fur­ther train­ing un­der the su­per­vi­sion of Si­no­hy­dro who con­structed the plant.

Ac­cord­ing to the sources, the train­ing was ne­ces­si­tated by the ob­ser­va­tion that the Me­to­long plant is “dif­fer­ent and larger” than any of the plants WASCO uses to sup­ply wa­ter to dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try.

How­ever, WASCO al­legedly re­fused to send its en­gi­neers for the train­ing ex­er­cise on the grounds that it be­lieved that once they were trained they would leave the com­pany in search of greener pas­tures out­side the coun­try.

“The en­gi­neers man­ning the Me­to­long plant were never trained to ef­fec­tively run that plant,” one source said.

“Si­no­hy­dro and the Me­to­long Author­ity wanted the WASCO en­gi­neers to un­dergo a rig­or­ous train­ing ex­er­cise but the man­age­ment re­fused, say­ing most Ba­sotho leave their com­pa­nies for greener pas­tures af­ter ac­quir­ing such rare skills.

“The re­cent dis­col­oration of wa­ter and pres­ence of blood­worms were a con­se­quence of the en­gi­neers’ lack of skills to run the plant.

“Since WASCO took over the plant, it has been one is­sue af­ter an­other.

“The Me­to­long plant is dif­fer­ent from the kinds of wa­ter treat­ment plants that our en­gi­neers are used to be­cause of its huge size and com­plex­ity.

“The en­gi­neers needed to be trained to en­sure that they fully un­der­stood how this plant is op­er­ated but WASCO man­age­ment de­cided against do­ing so.

“The pres­ence of blood­worms and un­con­trolled man­ganese clearly shows that they are strug­gling,” the source added.

How­ever, WASCO has re­futed the al­le­ga­tions and in­sisted that its en­gi­neers un­der­went a one-year re-train­ing programme to en­able them to ef­fec­tively op­er­ate the plant.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence in Maseru this week, WASCO Di­rec­tor of Op­er­a­tions and Main­te­nance, ‘Ma­mathe Makhaola ( pic­tured), said af­ter the re-train­ing WASCO en­gi­neers were now able to op­er­ate the plant on their own and without en­coun­ter­ing any se­ri­ous prob­lems.

“When we were given author­ity over Me­to­long in 2015, we dis­cov­ered that the plant was way big­ger than the ones we have been us­ing.

“There­fore, from April that year, we re­ceived train­ing from the con­trac­tor un­til April 2016.

“Since then we have been op­er­at­ing the plant without any hic­cups and the re­cent chal­lenges (blood worms and the coloured wa­ter) were not be­cause of the in­abil­ity to han­dle the plant.

“The blood worms are prod­ucts of the midge flies which en­ter the plant through air ven­ti­la­tors but we have de­vised a plan to deal with that be­cause it is not proper to have worms in wa­ter.

“The coloured wa­ter was due to ex­ces­sive man­ganese hence the brown­ish colour and the smell. Be­sides mak­ing washed clothes look dull, the wa­ter is not dan­ger­ous at all,” Ms Makhaola said.

Fol­low­ing com­plaints over the wa­ter qual­ity from dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties, Ms Makhaola said WASCO is now treat­ing man­ganese in its first stage of the wa­ter treat­ment plan in­stead of the last stage as it used to do.

She said WASCO had suc­cess­fully brought the man­ganese lev­els down to 0.2mg per litre of wa­ter which is way be­low the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion pre­scrip­tion of not more than 0.4mg per litre of wa­ter.

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