GRAHAMSTOWN residents heaved a sigh of relief when water finally started trickling out of taps which had been dry for about three weeks.
By yesterday, the water supply had been restored to most homes and businesses in high-lying areas after interventions from President Jacob Zuma's office and Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa.
Rhodes University infrastructure executive director Dr Iain L'Ange yesterday praised Molewa for trying to resolve ongoing water outage problems.
"The minister has provided a high-level overview of the water supply problems in Grahamstown and her support for the interventions and solutions mentioned are to be welcomed."
Interventions put in place last week by Water Affairs, assisted by the Makana Municipality, include appointing Amatola Water to manage bulk water supplies for the next five years as well as committing funding and expertise to repair antiquated infrastructure and come up with lasting solutions.
Already R66-million has been secured through a Water Affairs regional bulk infrastructure grant to augment supplies. Molewa said Water Affairs was working with municipal officials and other stakeholders, "intensifying efforts to restore permanent water supply as a matter of urgency".
Recently a rapid response unit had helped to resolve pump and supply problems while more water tankers had been secured to deliver supplies to Rhodes and specially placed tanks in hard-hit residential areas.
All major leaks had been repaired by the rapid response team. Taps ran dry weeks ago when ageing pumps packed up at the Waainek water treatment plant on the outskirts of town and efforts to restore supplies were hampered by a series of calamities including municipal bungling in getting a repaired pump delivered from Joburg, an electricity outage, burst pipes and empty reservoirs.
Attempts to solve the problem by shifting water from reservoirs on one side of town to the other had been hampered by demand exceeding supply and resulted in widespread shortages in high-lying areas.
Phased work includes building an additional pumping main and a massive new concrete reservoir to increase capacity to meet projected demand until 2040.