Africa – Port Elizabeth. Urgent meeting requested to set up investigation into Mandela Metro water crisis – The real reason why the Van Stadens water pipes broke

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Global water resources, Ground Water News, Misc Water Issues, Water Crisis, Water pipes, Water shortage
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Article courtesy of Port Elizabethan | August 6, 2012 | MyPE.co.za | Shared as educational material only

The crumbling infrastructure in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, which led to this weekend’s water shortages, shows negligence on the part of the municipality and cannot be left unchallenged. Furthermore, unless adequate funding is found to maintain infrastructure, similar incidents will occur again.

I have written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government to convene an urgent meeting to explain the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro water crises.

I have requested the Chairperson, Xolile Nqatha, to call the Executive Director of Infrastructure and Engineering and his associated staff who deals with water issues to report to the committee and explain what happened to cause this incident.

I have also requested that the committee consider establishing a board of enquiry to investigate this matter, to take corrective action and to ensure this embarrassing situation never occurs again in the Metro. If it is found that there has been negligence in the water department in the municipality, then heads must roll and officials sacked.

The stoppage of water to many areas of the Metro due to the bursting of feeder pipes from our dams is shocking.

Why did this happen?

Was sufficient warning not given to the Engineering Directorate of the possibility of such a crisis happening in the future from previous floods?

Why could this crisis not have been averted?

This disgraceful water crisis will have a knock-on effect on continued economic development in the Metro, seriously affecting growth and job creation. What confidence does this water crisis signal to potential business investors?

Of further concern are the possible legal ramifications the municipality may face as companies sue for lost production due to lack of water services.

The residents and businesses of Nelson Mandela Bay demand answers on this matter and the municipality must come clean with the public.

It is hoped that the establishment of a suitable investigative body will ensure that this unfortunate incident is quickly remedied and appropriate action is taken to ensure that there is never a repeat of such a water crisis again in this Metro.

Dacre Haddon, MPL

Editors Notes: It would appear that this letter to the editor by Dacre Haddon fully supports the real reason for the water crisis as published on MyPE here: The Real Reason Why the Van Stadens Water Pipes Broke – and NOT due to flooding as has been averred by all and sundry in the department known as communications!

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Water crisis news: Africa – Port Elizabeth: The real reason why the Van Stadens water pipes broke.

Article courtesy of Alan Straton | August 6, 2012 | MyPE.co.za | Shared as educational material only
The water pipes across the van Stadens River have always had a significant leak. These pipes exit the sand dunes pretty high up and do not lie in water.

During the recent drought it was not viable to scour and seal the leaking pipes as the amount of water that would have been lost in this operation would have been significant. Bear in mind that some estimates are that 40% of the water loss occurs from Dam to Meter – i.e. due to such leaks and faulty air valves in the pipeline which runs along the coastline and through private property via servitudes.

Property owners along the pipeline confirm that it has been almost 4 years since they last saw municipal teams keeping the grass cut and keeping trees and bush off of the servitude along the pipeline. As a result, we presume that visual inspections and maintenance of the pipeline and air valves were also then erratic. At this time we do not know how many air valves are along the pipeline but concerns have been raised around poor to nil maintenance of these vital components. Apparently the air valves rust and are unable to return to a normal resting state once they are activated to reduce the pressure, resulting in ever increasing water leaks.

According to a spokesperson (yes I heard this person talking!), a municipal team was scouring the pipe line on Wednesday, in preparation of fixing the leak that has been visible for years. One of the air valves either malfunctioned or blocked and continued to leak water causing the the soil under the pipe to erode and the pipelines to collapse. The leak was reported at about 6:00 pm on Wednesday evening to 0800 20 5050 but the metro did not react. On Thursday the hill had washed away.

As the source said; “The story of it being due to the heavy rain is a lot of crap. Bullshitting us again.”

The smaller 700mm pipeline should be fixed over the weekend. The larger 1000mm concrete pipeline requires some more time. Current estimates for the repair and rehabilitation run into a period of one month

Judging from the images that have been doing the rounds one would notice that the broken pipelines are not sitting in water, their valves look rusted and one has to ask the question; “Why would the pipelines break in an area where maintenance had been started?”

Compounding the concern is that the break is on private land and the van Stadens Resort is the subject of recommendations in the Kabuso Report.

Who said they wanted to live in interesting times?

Lest you think that air in pipelines is well, just air, and of no consequence I recommend that you read all about the air in pipelines, what it can cause and how engineers try to reduce and control it using air valves. In the short time available to me I couldn’t find a definitive maintenance schedule but presume that many factors contribute to proper maintenance of the air valves.

From ARI South Africa:

The entry, control and release of air from pipelines is a major, though often, hidden problem in pipelines used for water supply, foul water drainage and effluent discharge. Considerable costs are incurred in providing air release valves and chambers, and in deepening pipe trenches so as to provide the minimum gradients that are thought necessary to enable air bubbles and pockets to move towards the valves. Air valves require regular maintenance, but in practice this is rarely undertaken and there are numerous instances of their leaking and/or failing to operate correctly. In certain cases, vibration of the valves during start-up or shut-down of pumps can cause air to be drawn into a pipeline – the exact opposite of what is intended. Where effluent and water transfer pipelines need to be laid under water in coastal or tidal areas, air valves cannot be used at all and the bed topography may result in very flat pipe gradients.

Download and read a fascinating report on Air in Pipelines by C.S. Lauchlan, M. Escarameia, R.W.P May, R. Burrows and C. Gahan.

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