Another summer of tormenting asbestos water pipe breakages for Knysna. It’s good news that the Knysna Municipality and Knysna Council have decided to give the matter their attention, admitting the pipes are 50-years-old, though it must be asked why it wasn’t made a priority long ago – business losses, tourist discomfort and drought failed to encourage them. In the 2016 holiday season, there were 287 leaks. The Public were ignored whilst rates increased and bonuses were paid.
For years, the Municipality refused to respond to my queries regarding the age of pipes, something I want to know so that part of the follow-up could be to assess the health risk to us. Municipal Manager Kam Chetty now finally informs that the pipes reached the end of their lifespan 20 years ago! Were we only allowed to know once they’d made a decision to address the problem? More details are required, particularly water quality tests from the past decade.
Here’s the Municipality’s statement from Facebook. The comment section was well attended, universally condemning. Despite me having over 12,000 FB subscribers and being the main source of information for the Public on serious issues, the Municipality’s Communications Department again failed to tag me or email me – I remain banned.
BREAKS IN WATER RETICULATION SYSTEM
Knysna has been plague with water pipe breaks the last few weeks and Knysna Municipal Manager, Kam Chetty, said the main reason for these pipe breaks were the severe weather conditions, combined with aging infrastructure. “The extreme drought conditions have an effect on the soil, especially in clay soil areas. Water pipes are made from asbestos and as the soil expands and contracts, the pipes break.”
He said the water infrastructure in the CBD was installed over 50 years ago. “This infrastructure has reached its lifespan – in engineering terms the life cycle of water infrastructure is 30 years. The Technical Services Department has been working tirelessly and around the clock on the various water pipe break repairs, but it is normal for breaks to take an average of four to six hours to repair. “
Knysna Executive Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies and her team sincerely apologise for these water outages. This has been a recurring problem that affected the municipality for a number of years. The Executive Mayor called an urgent Mayoral Committee meeting today in order to address the problem. The following resolutions were taken:
• A valve replacement programme will commence in February which will enable the Municipality to isolate smaller areas and less residents will be affected, but it will not necessarily have an effect on pipe breaks;
• A cost estimate will be done to replace the entire CBD water network;
• Funding for these interventions will be discussed in Council as a matter of priority.
The Mayoral Committee agreed that the replacement can no longer be postponed. Bouw-Spies said, “We wish to assure residents that we are committed to addressing the water problems in Greater Knysna and the upgrade of infrastructure is at the top of our priority”.
Chetty said that they are committed to finding a solution. “I apologise sincerely for the water outages and the discomfort it causes, but we are working around the clock to fix it. We are also working on short and long term interventions with Council.”
He confirmed that the municipality has started with a programme to replace old pipelines. “The old asbestos pipes are replaced with UPVC pipes which is more tolerant to the soil condition. In the areas where this has been implemented already the number of pipe breaks has significantly decreased.”
Water leaks and pipe bursts should be reported quickly and accurately in order for them to be repaired timeously. Residents are encouraged to report water and sewerage leaks to 044 302 6331 and water abuse via WhatsApp 060 998 7000. “