GEORGE NEWS - Water pipelines in George are not being replaced at the desired rate due to funding constraints, but the George Municipality is considering pursuing outside funding in the hope to address the issue more extensively.
This is according to George municipal communications officer Athane Scholtz who responded to questions from George Herald following a spate of pipe bursts in close sequence in various neighbourhoods in George last week.
It caused concern with regard to the maintenance of the town's infrastructure.
Hundreds of residents were affected and in some cases, people were without water for longer than a day. Areas affected on Monday 9 July alone were Denneoord and the suburbs of Dellville Park, Rosedale and Le Grand Estate in Pacaltsdorp.
On Tuesday, supply to parts of Heatherlands was interrupted due to a water mains burst in Davidson Road, several more pipes burst in Pacaltsdorp, and another in the York / Palgrave street area. Asked if ageing infrastructure caused the bursts, Scholtz confirmed that the effectiveness of high pressure pipes reduces with age. "Water mains bursts occur mostly when the pressure in the system is at its highest, when consumption is at its lowest."
She said pipelines are replaced according to priority, based mainly on the highest frequency of failure incidents, as well as the available funds provided in the annual budget. "All failure incidents are captured in a database and the data analysed to determine the priority sections. Some of the street sections mentioned here have been identified as high priority."
She said the actual cost of repairing pipe bursts is not readily available, as it is spread across various cost centres. "The provisional actual cost for the Cost Centre Contracted Services, which includes repairs and maintenance for the water distribution section, amounts to R8,66-million for the 2018/19 financial year."
The effective life span of a water pipe depends on the water characteristics, pipe material, pressure and flow it is exposed to, as well as factors such as soil conditions. "The average life span of asbestos / cement pipes, which were commonly used until the late 1980s, is about 30 to 50 years, but may decrease, depending on the factors mentioned."
Annually between 2km and 7km of pipeline is replaced. Construction cost varies according to pipe diameter as well as various other factors. For the 2018/19 financial year an amount of R6,9-million was provided in the budget. An amount of R5-million is provided in the 2019/20 budget for network rehabilitation, replacement of asbestos cement pipelines and other specific projects, said Scholtz.
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