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R100 million to be spent on stabilising water woes

The installation of an additional waterline and reservoir to cater for the water needs of upper campus could mark the end of the water woes that have plagued the upper campus of Rhodes University in recent months.

Following city and campus-wide shortages earlier this year, interventions have been undertaken at local, provincial and national levels of up to R100 million to curb a rerun of the outages which saw the university go without water for up to eleven days at a time.

According to Executive Director of Infrastructure, Operations and Finance , Dr Iain L’Ange, Grahamstown, including Rhodes University “is in a far better place now than it was a year ago with regards to water” given the extensive efforts at stabilising the supply of water.  

He was speaking after been taken on a tour of the City’s bulk water supply systems provided by Mr Peter Ellis of MBB Consulting Engineers (MBB). They were accompanied by Professor Chrissie Boughey, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor: Academic and Student Affairs and Grahamstown Foundation Executive Director, Ms Louisa Clayton.

The Makana Water Crisis Intervention Project, initiated by the Department of Water and Sanitation, in collaboration with key provincial partners such as the Department of Treasury and Planning, have allocated R100 million over the period 2013/14 – 2014/15 to support water supply operations,  maintenance and rehabilitation.

According to Mr Ellis, the interventions have included the refurbishment of 2 existing and the purchase of a 3rd new pump set located at the Howisons Poort dam which supplies the Waainek water treatment plant. “Seeing that only one pump set is required a large amount of redundancy has been built into the system,” he added.  

“The existing 11kV power line is in the process of being replaced and a further 22kV line directly linked to ESKOM is being installed to circumvent any future power outages which have occurred regularly in the past.  Similar attention is being given to the James Kleynhans water supply scheme in that an additional bulk supply line and storage reservoir has been installed at Bothas Hill,” said Mr Ellis.

He added that “a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system has been installed which enables the bulk water supply system and the reservoir levels to be monitored.”

Amatola Water has been contracted by the municipality to upgrade the bulk water supply system and attend to the operation and maintenance of the system for the next five years, which has already born much fruit, according to Dr L’Ange. MBB has been appointed by the municipality to attend to water and pressure loss problems being experienced.

This has involved the refurbishment and replacement of valves, replacement of fittings and pipes and the installation of zone and bulk water meters. The layout of the reticulation system and valve positions is being captured on a geographical information system.

The City’s sewerage reticulation system is also being assessed by the Municipality and the consultants in order to establish a clear plan to address the problems.

On the campus a programme is in place to install a set of tanks, one per residence, to collect rainwater and act as backup should it be required. Similarly such tanks are being set up at strategic points on the remainder of campus.

According to Dr L’Ange, Rhodes University is working closely with Makana Municipality and MBB to establish a plan whereby water from one side of town can be shared throughout town on a rotation basis in the event of a water outage on either side of town.

“In that plan it is proposed that priority should be given to areas of high occupation density such as the hospital, homes for the aged, schools and the university with boarding facilities or residences, and the prison. Under such circumstances water will be made available to the remainder of the City on a rotation basis,” he said.

The University has already on several occasions made its water tanker available to the Municipality to supply water to areas of the City experiencing outages.

 

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