NDLAMBE municipal officials are working on plans to ensure Sunshine Coast towns do not experience the same lengthy water outages as Grahamstown.
Deputy director of infrastructure Noluthando Vithi warned yesterday that thousands of residents could be left high and dry for up to a month while a new supply source was connected to a 10 million-litre balancing dam that provided certain high-lying areas in Port Alfred.
However, she said it had to be done.
According to Vithi, the outage would have long-term benefits for the town, as the connection would provide improved quantities and better quality water to residents used to getting a supply with high salinity levels from municipal taps.
Calling the connection of the new water source a "quick-win" solution for the town, Vithi said officials were hard at work coming up with long-term solutions. Plans included the construction of a reverse osmosis plant near the balancing tanks.
Fears that Port Alfred's water infrastructure was in as bad a state as Grahamstown's antiquated systems were downplayed by Vithi. She said half of the pipes were in a good condition and work was being done on others.
Ndlambe water services superintendent-general Enoch Jobela said 20 water tanks of 5000 litres each would be installed in vulnerable areas and two tankers would be on standby to refill them.
Jobela said the vital balancing dam had to be completely drained – taking up to a week – before cement work could be done to the interior to allow the connection of the new borehole water sources.
Hardest hit would be high-lying areas in the township, while certain areas in town might suffer reduced tap pressure.
Aurecon consultant Peter Stutterheim – the engineering representative on the project – said the purpose of the project was to supply an improved standard of water to the town.
He said the new source – which was 10km away, near Mooifontein Quarry – provided the best quality short-term ground water solution for the area.
Quality assessments of the water had revealed it was "almost perfect" for drinking.
Stutterheim said there were also plans to build a reverse osmosis plant near the air school as a longer-term solution to cope with future growth of the town. This was part of a plan by Amathola Water to come up with lasting solutions for the area.
He said the three- to five-year "quick win" using borehole water allowed time to finalise the tender to build the proposed reverse osmosis plant, reservoir and treatment works on the outskirts of town.