Little attention to serious leaks

Some of the cracks at the valve were already several centimeters wide.
Some of the cracks at the valve were already several centimeters wide.

Despite some parts of the municipal area being badly affected by sinkhole-related water problems recently, it still appeared as if the Merafong City Local Municipality was not paying much attention to serious, sinkhole-risk water leaks this week.

On Monday morning, municipal councillor, Mr Carlos Rebelo was up in arms after megalitres of water had been gushing into the ground for days within metres of the two municipal reservoirs in the Doornfontein area. These reservoirs serve the new “Extension 5” area as well as Welverdiend and other parts of Khutsong.

A district councillor who was driving around to survey the infrastructure, Mr Gary Isherwood, first saw that all was not well at a huge valve on a pipeline next to the reservoirs last week. He immediately informed Rebelo, who in turn sent a written message with photographs attached to the manager of the municipality’s Water Department, Mr Thulani Bonkolo.

Since Rebelo reported the matter on 1 July, nothing had been done about the leakage by Monday morning. When the Herald visited the site with Rebelo and Isherwood, the valve seemed to be sinking into the ground and was hanging skew. Large cracks, some of them about five centimetres wide, could be seen on the ground next to the valve.

Massive volumes of water could be seen gushing into the ground from the side of the valve. “I do not understand why no one is doing anything about this. There clearly seems to be a sinkhole forming but the municipality is not paying attention. What makes matters worse, is that the municipality constantly reports huge water losses that cost a lot of money, yet they ignore the leakages that cause them,” Rebelo lamented.

He also showed the Herald another leaking pipe on the side of the P111 main road near the Dolomite Street intersection, where water was spurting for several metres. By Monday morning, the winter grass around the broken pipeline was already a healthy green.

Rebelo showed the Herald the message and photographs that he sent to the municipality on 24 June. “I can see that someone has, in fact, been here since I reported it. When I was here the first time there was a plastic bag wrapped around the leakage. Now the plastic has been replaced by a pair of trousers,” he observed. The Herald posed questions to the municipality on Tuesday.

“The leak referred to at the Doornfontein reservoirs was investigated and appropriate action will be taken. Vandals tried to steal the pressure control valves by cutting them out from the water supply line,” a municipal spokesperson indicated.

“The previous water leak next to the P111 road was caused by suspected scrap metal thieves who cut the pipe. The problem has been addressed. A further inspection was ordered after this enquiry and it was found that the leaking pipe belongs to the mine. The visual inspection suggests that the damage was also caused by scrap metal thieves.

The infrastructure at the Doornfontein reservoirs belongs to the municipality. There are two pipelines on the left side of the P111. The larger one belongs to Rand Water and the smaller one belongs to the mine. The municipal pipeline runs on the right side of the road, towards Potchefstroom. Once water has passed through the bulk water metres of Rand Water, it is for the municipality’s account,” the spokesperson said.

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