With water shortages seemingly becoming the norm across the province Lepelle Northern Water (LNW) is adamant that the crisis would end if the National Treasury approved the proposed R11 billion grant needed to refurbish and install new water infrastructure in the entity’s area of supply. LNW requires at least R3 billion by April next year to start with the first phase of the project.
This was revealed by LNW manager operations and geographic information systems (GIS), Carel Schmahl when briefing residents from wards 21 and 39 during a community meeting at a venue in the city last Thursday. He said the project would ensure an increase of water supply in the province and reiterated that the shortage of water would continue if LNW don’t receive the grant as requested but he was hopeful that the department will consider their proposal.
“The challenge with Ebenezer and Olifantspoort plants is that we are forced to operate the two plants 24 hours a day hence we don’t have time to conduct maintenance. We need to install a bypass line for us to be able to do maintenance,” Schmahl explained, adding that the shortage is caused by factors such as ageing infrastructure as some were built in 1972.
Polokwane Executive Mayor Thembi Nkadimeng emphasised that by the end of October, the municipality will call for tenders for reconfiguring the infrastructure associated with the existing ground water systems and the ones to be developed to cater for an integrated surface and groundwater system. The tenders which will also include equipping, repairing, upgrading and treating of all existing and new ground water resources are estimated to cost between R350 million and R400 million, she stated.
Nkadimeng further outlined that the order of magnitude of the additional water that these ground water resources would bring to the city during peak demand periods is around 30 megalitres per day, adding that this is close to 25% of the current water use in the city. She went on to highlight that the additional water will be delivered to the existing five strategic reservoir complexes in Polokwane and Seshego.
The meeting was also attended by ward councillors Franco Marx and Frank Haas who facilitated the programme and noted down challenges that were raised by residents. Some two residents stressed that it was unfair for some parts of the city to go a week without water and proposed that the municipality should introduce a system similar to ‘load shedding’ to distribute water equally when there is a shortage.
Nkadimeng responded to the suggestion by saying that the municipality first have to install isolation valves to be able to distribute water equally and reiterated that areas such as Mankweng and Seshego don’t have such valves as yet. She went on to reveal that LNW has been failing to supply the municipality with 40 mega litres a day for the past three months as per their contract and that the municipality had to withhold the September payment awaiting a commitment from LNW to deliver in terms of the contract.
Story & photos: ENDY SENYATSI