Vandals threaten water system
R8m spend on security a year
Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) is faced with the task of building capacity to address the issue of rapidly growing households while having to deal with the cost of increased vandalism in water schemes amid dilapidated infrastructure issues.
In an IDP Rep Forum where CHDM along with government departments presented IDP progress reports last Thursday, municipal manager Gcobani Mashiyi said the municipality was spending R8m on security at the water treatment works facilities per year.
“We spend over R8m a year in security alone which is supposed to go to service delivery to improve the infrastructure. We have come up with a strategy of getting councillors and ward committees to engage communities to manage the issue of securities.
“We currently have 50 infrastructure projects, but when they are completed they will require security personnel and that will be costly. We are trying to come up with innovative ways of dealing with that.”
According to Mashiyi, an assessment conducted four years ago by the municipality required over R2bn by then to upgrade and improve the infrastructure system.
“We then came up with a revenue enhancement [plan] to encourage households to pay for the services they are receiving. The second plan was the mobilisation of resources for
infrastructure grants. Hence we are able to talk about the debt amnesty, the progress on the implementation of smart meters which will assist us to perfect the billing system and tampering.”
In the current financial budget, the municipal manager said they had managed to increase the maintenance budget to be able to respond to problems.
They were also improving their response rate to bridge the gap of responding late to customer complaints in some areas.
He said before the end of October, mayor Wongama Gela would be launching a water leak programme to curb water distribution losses.
Some of the stakeholders who participated in the forum raised the issue of rationing not being communicated. He agreed the municipality needed to provide its customer with schedules to be aware of when the water would be unavailable.
To address the issue of growing communities versus the capacity they currently had, he said they would be making use of infrastructure grants to build capacity.
Meanwhile, water services provision senior manager Bulelani Lucando‘s progress report touched base on the functioning water areas and those that were non-compliant.
Lucando informed the forum the municipality had 500 water schemes and 39 water systems operating in the district. Out of 539 systems, 480 of them were functioning, which gives them 89% in the water services system.
AB Xuma Local Municipality has the highest number of nonfunctional schemes. Out of the 98 schemes, 15 of them are nonfunctional.
“We have a lot of diesel-driven schemes in the area. The engines have problems with theft and they attract vandals. We are experiencing the same challenge in Emalahleni and in Intsika Yethu.
“Starting from Komani towards the western side of the district, there are lesser schemes, most of them are converted to electricity. We plan to convert the diesel-driven engine to electricity on the eastern side of the district.”
He outlined the following areas to be among those facing capacity problems in water treatment works with the increasing demand.
“The last upgrade that happened in Komani was in 1992 before the other settlements were constructed.
“We are experiencing strain in the operation of the system. It is under pressure. Ezibeleni and Mlungisi are growing. There are new settlements that are giving us problems due to the capacity of the treatment works versus the population we need to serve.
“There are also challenges in Whittlesea. The treatment works were commissioned in1982.”
Middleburg and Cradock had an underground system as there is no surface water in the area. According to Lucando, underground water levels dropped in winter.
This made it difficult for highlevel areas and industrial areas to have water with pressure issues. He said Kowa experienced the same problem.
Lucando said water rationing was a result of the limited capacity of the infrastructure versus the population. “The dilapidated infrastructure and the pipes servicing some of the areas are taking the strain.
“There are pipe bursts constantly, especially in Tsojana.
“The pipeline that was built a long time ago is an asbestos pipe from Tsojane treatment works to Cofimvaba and also supplies some of the rural areas in that space.
“In Cradock, Middleburg as well in all the old towns in particular there are a lot of pipe bursts.”
Due to the old infrastructure, he said rural areas were experiencing low yield in some of the schemes.
“Hewu is always struggling in winter it is a semiarid part of the region.”
The population growth was rising in areas along the national road, he said. “On the N6 towards James Calata Town, there is a lot of growth. Along the R61 towards Tarkastad, R7 to Whittlesea, and R61 to Cofimvaba there are settlements growing along these strategic routes, placing strain on the system. The water trucks are also needed in some of the schemes which are not functioning.”
Lucando stated that backup generators used in prolonged power outages led to more diesel being used, which caused operational costs to increase.
As far as sanitation is concerned he said they were not doing well.
The municipality had 19 treatment works with 11 of them functioning while eight functioned poorly.
This, he said, made them score 57% in their performance for wastewater treatment works operations. “We also have 34 pump stations which are feeding to the water treatment works, of which 20 are functioning, 14 partially functioning. Our performance is 58% in that regard.”
CHDM was still confronted with the backlog of VIP toilets that were constructed in the early years, some of them full. He said they also had to deal with the reverse backlog of the toilets as well.
The places which were affected included informal settlements, Ilinge, Cala, and Middleberg, which used substandard sanitation in the form of septic tanks and VIP toilets. They were making use of honey suckers in these areas.
The issue of deposition of foreign material in manholes continued to cause blockages which he said needed more awareness campaigns among residents. If foreign material escaped further, they damage the pump stations.
The last upgrade that happened in Komani was in 1992 before the other settlements were constructed. We are experiencing strain in the operation of the system. It is under pressure. Ezibeleni and Mlungisi are growing.