Two more years of water woes for PE's western suburbs

That’s how long it will take to solve Bay western suburbs’ supply problems

The Bay’s infrastructure and engineering head, Mongameli Bobani, with water and sanitation director Barry Martin and senior water and sanitation official Edward Verseput during a site visit to the R340m Coegakop wellfield and water treatment works project on Thursday. It is hoped the project will be completed in August 2022
HIGH HOPES: The Bay’s infrastructure and engineering head, Mongameli Bobani, with water and sanitation director Barry Martin and senior water and sanitation official Edward Verseput during a site visit to the R340m Coegakop wellfield and water treatment works project on Thursday. It is hoped the project will be completed in August 2022
Image: SUPPLIED

It will be another two years before residents in Port Elizabeth’s western suburbs have a consistent water supply.

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has pinned its hopes on the R340m Coegakop wellfield and water treatment works project — now in its fourth and final phase — to solve the supply woes, which have frustrated residents for years now.

Once completed, the project, which began a decade ago with a comprehensive survey of the Bay’s groundwater sources, will be SA’s largest biofiltration plant, according to the metro’s water and sanitation head, Barry Martin.

Biofiltration refers to the process whereby organic bacteria in the filters will digest the excess iron and manganese in the water.

Infrastructure and engineering political boss councillor Mongameli Bobani said while the project was still under way, residents should adhere to the water restrictions by using a maximum of 50l per person per day.

“No irrigation, no [filling of] swimming pools and [people must] report all leaks so that we can fix them  — let us all save water,” Bobani said.

“Though we have all these projects, they will not be finished tomorrow and it will take some time, so let us continue using water sparingly.”

He said the metro was doing its best to avoid a situation where taps completely run dry.

“Our dams are now producing 260 megalitres of water per day and yet consumers need 290 per day.

“If we do nothing now then we will be in a more serious situation,” Bobani said.

“This is a huge initiative.

“I am happy that we are able to drill [for] some water and the only thing left now is for our facility to be completed and the water to be treated.”

Martin said the project had been prioritised as part of the 2010 drought intervention plan.

Extensive work had already been done to find boreholes.

Martin said once completed, in August 2022, the project would go a long way in addressing the water challenges in the city’s western areas.

He said the metro had tested 36 boreholes before deciding on five which would see the water works treating underground water and supplying residents with clean, drinkable water.

“We have located boreholes on the other side of Coegakop and we have drilled those and we have laid pipes.

“The value of that was about R50m, so we have located the water for this project and we know where it is.

“This contract has to do with taking the water out of there and building a water treatment facility because the water was high in iron and manganese and had a rusty colour and not immediately safe for consumption,” Martin said.

He said the treatment works facility would treat the water, feed it back to the Coegakop reservoir and into the Coega IDZ and Motherwell and that the water produced there would relieve the Nooitgedagt treatment works — which would then ramp up supply to the western suburbs.

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