Water wasted

Mary Debrick, Pinelands

I really had to laugh when we received a notice with our rates account to say that the City is running a water saving initiative.

Over the past few years we have reported over 60 water leaks to the City as we see them when we walk around our area.

They are usually fairly promptly repaired.

However, we have been trying to get the City to fix a leaking fire hydrant (outside 4 Aandblom, Pinelands) at the end of our road for over a month now.

When we first noticed the leak I reported it via the City’s webpage on January 18 (and was given the reference number 1010711757) and again on January 19 (Ref 1010716193) and again on January 26 (Ref 1010731645 ).

When nothing was done, I wrote to the mayor on January 26 and again on January 28.

On February 2, I received a reply from Anvor Clayton at the mayor’s office. He said that “this office will revert to you within seven working days.”

I have not heard anything further from him to date, despite the fact that I wrote to him again on February 8.

To add insult to injury, the City repaired a water leak in the pavement about 10 metres from the hydrant recently but the hydrant is still leaking as indicated by the pictures provided.

We are really frustrated as there seems to be nothing that we can do to stop this waste of precious water.

Those of us concerned citizens who have been using a minimum amount of water for the past year or so are being penalised as we are expected to reduce our already minimal water usage by 10 percent.

We walk past this puddle of wasted water every evening and we are getting angrier and angrier.

* Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services, responds:

The City of Cape Town would like to apologise if there is a perception that it is non-responsive to the reported water leaks.

It has to be borne in mind, however, that the City is, on a daily basis, attending to the installation, mainten-ance, upgrade and replacement of its water supply infrastructure totalling in excess of 10 000 km in length.

Vandalism and theft of this infrastructure have had a detrimental impact on the water supply over the past few years, escalating drastically to the extent that entire communities are inconvenienced by a single act of vandalism.

A large amount of this work happens literally around the clock (especially the maintenance) and also includes preventative water loss measures such as pipe replacement, zoning and pressure management.

The implementation of Level 2 water restrictions has also significantly increased the awareness levels among our residents, resulting in a massive influx in the number of reports received daily.

The City has taken note of the current dynamics impacting its services and is revisiting the methodologies in place with a view to streamlining the service.

In cases where the leak is minor, water supply to the area is often maintained until another team is available to fix the leak, which means the leak will be allowed to run in order to maintain water supply to the residents until a fully equipped repair team is available.

Minor leaks are considered lower priority, and thus are sometimes not attended to immediately because crews are attending to larger leaks or pipe bursts.

If the burst is major, the first responder will turn off supply at the main ensuring major wastage does not occur.

A major burst can, in a few seconds, let more water run to waste than a minor leak would in a few weeks. Reports of slow response times are often a result of the mistaken assumption that the City has forgotten about the service request. In reality, it is most likely due to more pressing needs elsewhere.