IT has cost Port Elizabeth more than R1-million to avert the water crisis which left the city teetering on the brink of disaster last week.
On Thursday, two pipelines from the Churchill and Impofu dams collapsed near the Van Stadens River Resort, causing seven of the 54 reservoirs to run dry and leaving more than a third of the city without water.
Municipal officials and contractors worked around the clock at the weekend to fix one of the two feeders, a 700mm steel pipe.
It could take almost two weeks to repair the second one, a 1000mm diametre concrete pipe which dates back to the 1940s.
But the municipality said at 3.30pm yesterday life would be "back to normal” for residents within 48 hours at the most.
While a final financial assessment was not yet available, municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality had already rung up a hefty bill.
"With the cost of material, the two contractors involved, and overtime for municipal staff it will exceed R1-million,” he said.
Baron said it would take two weeks to fix the second pipe because materials and parts needed to be sourced.
He appealed to residents to save water. "The reservoirs are being filled, it will take between 24 and 48 hours before they are fully charged. After that, everything will be back to normal.”
He said Parkridge was the only area which still had no water, while a few had only a partial supply. They included Newton Park, Greenacres, Walmer Heights, Walmer Downs, Mangold Park, Fernglen and Summerstrand.
"Everyone who helped fix the problem deserves praise for their exceptional service. It shows people’s commitment to the metro,” Baron said.
The burst pipes also revealed the municipality’s dire infrastructure crisis.
The city needs about R550- million a year to eliminate the backlog of required water infrastructure and maintain the upgrades. About R180-million was allocated in the 2012/13 budget for both maintenance and upgrades.
The DA and the municipality are at loggerheads over the cause of the pipes collapsing.
The DA’s shadow MEC for local government, Dacre Haddon, said yesterday: "The crumbling infrastructure in the metro, which led to this weekend’s water shortage, shows negligence on the part of the municipality.”
He called for an investigation to determine the exact cause of the near-disaster.
"If it is found that there has been negligence in the municipality’s water department, heads must roll,” Haddon said.
"Was sufficient warning not given to the engineering directorate of the possibility of such a crisis happening in the future from previous floods?”
Baron said the pipes had collapsed because of a host of problems. "Soil erosion, leaks, the wind and because officials were dealing with the floods. All of this played a part in the pipes collapsing,” he said.
"We were just unlucky ... it was a natural occurrence.”