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A burst water main in the Nomzamo area interrupted water supply to large swathes of the Strand area last week. Despite protest action and challenging engineering conditions, staff from the City’s’ Water and Sanitation Department worked around the clock to both provide alternative supply and effect repairs. Read more below:

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, would like to thank staff of the Water and Sanitation Department for their commitment to restoring water supply to the Nomzamo community in the face of extremely challenging conditions.Teams on the ground worked flat out from the moment of the first pipe failure on Wednesday last week till late Tuesday night when supply was finally able to be restored, after having laid the equivalent of more than two soccer field lengths of water lines in the dark.

Access to the pipeline was highly challenging due to informal structures having been built on top of it, and in addition to the engineering challenges progress was arrested when teams could not reach key points of the network due to protest action and threats to their personal safety. With the added complication of a blocked sewer pipe that caused an overflow, staff worked in swamp-like conditions two metres below ground level under protection of security services to repair the pipe faults.

‘It is not always possible to predict a series of material faults like what we saw with the Nomzamo area over the past week. The only thing within human control is the speed and skill with which such a crisis is responded to. For that reason I would like to extend my greatest thanks to Water and Sanitation Department management and the staff of the Hillstar depot who pulled out all the stops and whose commitment to restoring water supply to the area is exemplary. Thank you for doing a sterling job under the circumstances,’ said Councillor Sonnenberg.

Maintenance work due to a leak commenced in Solly’s Town on Wednesday 4 May 2016, which had required that water supply be shut off. Upon recharging the line, the replacement pipe failed immediately. Another pipe was installed on Thursday 5 May 2016 and the line recharged later that afternoon.

At about 01:00 on Friday morning, 6 May 2016, a burst occurred about 30 m away from the point of repair, which caused the flooding of approximately 550 informal dwellings. Subsequent to this, protest action flared up and access to the burst was not possible.

Emergency planning meetings were held on Saturday morning, which prompted the Hillstar team to be called in that afternoon.

A plan to blank off the line on either side of the burst (allowing Asanda Village to receive normal supply and Nomzamo to be fed from Somerset West) was thwarted due to a fault with the blank-off plate.

The team worked throughout the remainder of the day and into the next to fix the restraining system and water was turned on again at around 16:00 on Sunday 8 May 2016. Nomzamo has had water since then, albeit at a lower pressure than normal. In order to do the same for Asanda Village, an installation was required at the point where the pipe had been repaired, but this was not possible due to protest action preventing access.

A stop-gap solution was implemented in the form of a smaller overland bridge but, due to relatively low pressure in the Onverwacht area, this effort enjoyed minimal effect.

Following being given the green light by the local ward councillor, staff were able to get going with the Asanda Village installation.

Excavation was done during Tuesday 10 May 2016 and a blank-off plate prepared. This was installed and water was turned on at 22:00 that day.

While work was being performed and supply was turned off, between five and seven water tankers were in the area providing residents with water for domestic use.

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