By Geoff Embling, Democratic Alliance (DA) Ward Four councillor
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) met with Makana municipality officials on Wednesday 22 March to discuss the flooding at James Kleynhans. It is alleged that the outcome of the meeting placed the responsibility on the shoulders of Makana, and that the DWS will not provide funding to Makana for repair work for the damage caused.
There have been various suggestions about the cause of the flooding. The first one is that the non-return valves on the pipes leading out of the pump station were faulty. This would have caused water, which had been pumped up to Botha’s Hill, to flow back down the line and flood the pump station. The second is that the valve on the holding reservoir for treated water entering the pump station could not be shut, which would have caused the flooding. Either way, management would have been responsible for any lack of maintenance, and the officials on duty at the pump station would have been responsible for negligence and absence from duty.
Valves are supposed to be checked and maintained regularly, which doesn’t seem to have been occurring, and councillors will be requesting to see the logbook of maintenance. Flooding of the pump station, along with pump issues, has been an ongoing problem, with few consequences for negligent management and staff. This chronic issue has caused severe strain and hardship on Makana’s 80 000 plus residents, and it is time for municipal staff to face consequences.
According to paperwork from 2020, there should be five pump sets (pumps and motors) at James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works. The Manager of Water recently told council that two pump sets were stashed away from the pump station floor in case flooding occurred. The two pump sets should therefore have been brought out and, after being aligned, water production should have resumed to normal levels, even with the flooded motors being sent to Joburg for drying out/baking.
A municipal statement issued this week said that only one pump will be available after the flooding incident, which will provide 50 percent of the usual amount of water from James Kleynhans. The Auditor General stated in his latest report that no paperwork could be found for two pump sets purchased.
Things don’t add up, and the 80 000 plus residents, who are currently affected, deserve to get some straight answers from the municipality.
(Makana municipality has been invited to respond to this column in the next edition of Grocott’s Mail).