Knysna has been plague with water pipe breaks the last few weeks and Knysna Municipal Manager, Kam Chetty, said the main reason for these pipe breaks were the severe weather conditions, combined with aging infrastructure. “The extreme drought conditions influence the soil, especially in clay soil areas. Water pipes are made from asbestos and as the soil expands and contracts, the pipes break.”
He said the water infrastructure in the CBD was installed over 50 years ago. “This infrastructure has reached its lifespan – in engineering terms the life cycle of water infrastructure is 30 years. The Technical Services Department has been working tirelessly and around the clock on the various water pipe break repairs, but it is normal for breaks to take an average of four to six hours to repair. “
Knysna Executive Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies and her team sincerely apologize for these water outages. This has been a recurring problem that affected the municipality for several years. The Executive Mayor called an urgent Mayoral Committee meeting to address the problem. The following resolutions were taken:
- A valve replacement program will commence in February which will enable the Municipality to isolate smaller areas and less residents will be affected, but it will not necessarily influence pipe breaks;
- A cost estimate will be done to replace the entire CBD water network;
- Funding for these interventions will be discussed in Council as a matter of priority.
The Mayoral Committee agreed that the replacement can no longer be postponed. Bouw-Spies said, “We wish to assure residents that we are committed to addressing the water problems in Greater Knysna and the upgrade of infrastructure is at the top of our priority”.
Chetty said that they are committed to finding a solution. “I apologize sincerely for the water outages and the discomfort it causes, but we are working around the clock to fix it. We are also working on short and long-term interventions with Council.”
He confirmed that the municipality has started with a program to replace old pipelines. “The old asbestos pipes are replaced with UPVC pipes which is more tolerant to the soil condition. In the areas where this has been implemented already the number of pipe breaks has significantly decreased.”