The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, together with a team of dedicated contractors, have worked around the clock since Thursday morning to reconnect the damaged Churchill Pipeline, which supplies roughly one third of the city’s water.
A delegation of media representatives were pleasantly surprised when they arrived at the site, on a media site inspection arranged by the municipality this morning, to find that not only had the 700 steel pipeline been reconnected, but that water was already flowing through the pipe.
Acting Executive Director of Infrastructure and Engineering, Barry Martin, praised the contractors, Scribante and Dynaform, for their hard work over the past 72 hours to get the pipe repaired.
He also praised the dedicated men and women of the municipality who had worked tirelessly to ensure that the water crisis was resolved as speedily as possible.
“I want to thank each and every person who has done their bit to ensure that we can bring water back to the affected communities,” he said.
Opening a valve on the pipeline, Martin showed that there was already water flowing through the 700mm pipe.
“We are in the process of recharging the pipelines, but this a very delicate procedure due to the amount of air that is currently in the system. A build up of air pressure while recharging the pipes could lead to secondary bursts,” he said.
For this reason, Martin asked that people continue to use water sparingly, not to stockpile water and to put off water intensive activities for the moment.
“I know that Monday is traditionally laundry day, but if people can manage for another day or two until the system has normalised, that will really assist us,” he said.
Martin said they were in the process of restoring water to Greenbushes, and would then continue to refill the affected areas.
He said those areas currently without water would begin to return to normal from tomorrow afternoon.
“The restoration of water will take some time as depleted reservoirs will need to be filled first, and the pressure in the pipes will need to be continuously monitored,” he said
Martin said about 10 of the 54 reservoirs had run dry and would need to be filled.
Contractors worked around the clock
Martin said the municipality extended a special word of thanks to Scribante, who had immediately moved on site on Thursday and who had been working around the clock to ensure that the water supply was restored as soon as possible.
He also commended Dynaform, who were responsible for welding and constructing the actual pipeline on site as well as assisting with the bypass pipeline at Chelsea to provide interim water relief to affected areas.
Dynaform project manager for the Nooitgedacht scheme, who was on site this morning, Ben Cregg, said they had begun work on the actual pipeline at around 3pm yesterday afternoon, and the work had been completed by 6am this morning.
“We had a team of 40 workers, working shifts to complete the pipeline as soon as possible,” said Clegg.
Martin also commended suppliers, such as Ibis Engeneering, who had opened their doors at 3am in the morning to provide the contractors with equipment and supplies that they needed.
Second pipeline still needs to be repaired
Martin said the second 1000mm cement pipeline, which dates back to the 1940s, would still take another two weeks or so to repair.
This was because parts and materials to fix the pipe were no longer readily available, due to its age.
Water tankers still doing the rounds
A number of suburbs are still experiencing water shortages and Martin said that there are still 14 water tankers that are out and about, each carrying on average 9000 litres.
“They will be doing the rounds until the water is restored,” he said.
If you need water and need to know where the nearest tanker is to you, please contact the municipality’s toll free call centre on 0800 20 50 50