R350m water pipeline boost for Butterworth

A rescue for water-starved Butterworth is in the pipeline.

The 15-month construction of the 700mm, 16.5km, R350-million pipeline taking water from Tsomo to drought- stricken Butterworth has changed from “long-term intervention” to an “emergency” project.

This was said by officials from Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) yesterday.

The Gcuwa and Xilinxa Dams which supply Butterworth with its water are sitting at 5.6% and 0.2% respectively, the department’s Eastern Cape communications head Thandile Ngcume said yesterday.

“The department has had some interventions in this area including drilling boreholes but the yield is very low.

“However, the department is working on a long-term intervention to construct a pipeline to transport water from Tsomo to Butterworth. The designs are being finalised.

“The building of this pipeline is being considered an emergency, but because of the fact that the project involves working with provincial bulk infrastructure, it is not something that can be done quickly and finished in a month,” Ngcume said.

National DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: “The pipeline will consist of a 16.5-km long pumping main from the Tsomo river abstraction works to the watershed where the raw water will be released into the Butterworth water catchment.

“The pipeline will be made of steel. The pipe sections will be welded together on site during construction. The pipeline will have a diameter of 700mm. It will be placed approximately 1.5m underground.”

Ratau said the design and tender documentation had been completed and once started, the project would take 15 months.

The major components of the project also include an 8km electrical supply line and a substation, a rising main pipeline and outlet works to release raw water into the upper reaches of the Xilinxa Dam.

“The total cost of all these components is estimated to be R350-million,” he said.

“The pipeline to be constructed is an emergency scheme. It will supply raw water to the upper reaches of the Xilinxa Dam.

“The Xilinxa Dam in turn supplies raw water to Butterworth. The proposed pipeline and project aims to supplement the raw water supply to Butterworth.

“The project will not completely eliminate the water shortage of Butterworth but is merely there to supplement the dwindling supply.

“This emergency scheme will be fully utilised in future as it will be part of the Ngqamakhwe regional water supply scheme which will provide potable water to the area. It also has the potential of supplying potable water to Butterworth,” Ratau said.

“Since the drought situation has worsened only the CBD receives piped water from 5am to 9am on Tuesdays and Saturdays only.

“Other areas are getting water through communal 5000l plastic tanks. These tanks are filled by eight tankers on a daily basis which are getting water from Kei Bridge which is 30km from Butterworth,” he said.

Reports released by the department on Wednesday put the average dam level for the Eastern Cape at 55% compared to 64.1% at this time last year.

The Amathole water supply system which serves Buffalo City Metro sat this week at 60% compared to 79.5% last year.

“The Algoa Water Supply System, serving Port Elizabeth, is hovering at 31.2% which is a substantial decline from 71.6% in 2016.

“Drought is still hitting the province. The department encourages municipalities to provide water tanks as an intervention where there is no water.

“Communities are encouraged to use water sparingly and adhere to water restrictions imposed by their respective municipalities,” Ngcume said.

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