Joburg Water systems set for a R5bn revamp

NEW APPROACH: Joburg Water MD Gerald Dumas.  circa. May 2009. © Unknown
NEW APPROACH: Joburg Water MD Gerald Dumas. circa. May 2009. © Unknown

JOHANNESBURG Water will spend R5billion on upgrading, rehabilitating and replacing the water management plant in the city.

JOHANNESBURG Water will spend R5billion on upgrading, rehabilitating and replacing the water management plant in the city.

More than 20000km of pipelines will be replaced across the municipality, including water and sewerage mains, with infrastructure expected to last 50 to 80 years.

The city will also acquire six more state-of-the-art hydro vacuum machines to unclog water pipes. It now uses three of these machines.

"The aim is to minimise pipe bursts. What is happening now is that we fix a leak or a burst but two or three days later the pipe bursts a couple of metres down the line," said Bharat Gulab, investment manager for the pipeline replacement programme.

Gulab said pipes would be replaced in "hot spots - where the area had a history of frequent bursts".

He said the old asbestos cement pipes were in a "bad condition and bursts were recurring".

The city loses up to 11percent of its water to leaks in areas with water metres.

Gerald Dumas, Johannesburg Water's managing director, said 30percent of the city's water goes to Soweto, but 69percent of that water is unaccounted for.

Dumas said this was because of the consumption system that had been implemented in the township, where residents were levied a flat rate for their water bill.

He said Johannesburg's sewers were not under pressure and blamed blockages and overflowing manholes on "abuse, where people often put foreign objects in the sewers".

He singled out Soweto as a problematic area.

"There is a major design problem where infrastructure was built in the wrong place," said Dumas.

He would liaise with the department of human settlements for better planning to avoid problems in informal settlements.

He also said the city's sewerage could not pollute local rivers because the sewers and the stormwater systems were not connected.

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