Cape Town - The waster drinking-quality water pouring out of leaks in the Simon’s Town naval dockyard at an estimated cost of R15 000 a day is “a terrible indictment” of the country’s management systems, says local councillor Felicity Purchase.
The Sub-council 19 chairwoman was commenting on the response of the national Department of Public Works, which is responsible for maintenance of the dockyard.
Last week, Purchase and city water officials held an urgent meeting with senior SA Navy staff after the city had been forced to cut off water to the dockyard for two days to prevent the water supply to the rest of the town from being compromised through pressure problems caused by the leaks.
The water has been restored, but the navy is turning off the supply to the affected area between 4pm and 7.30am each day.
This has resulted in the overnight reading of water consumption at the dockyard dropping from 38 litres per second to 8 litres per second.
Public Works said the entire water reticulation system in the dockyard had to be upgraded and would be done as soon as funds were available.
Denying knowledge of a 2008 probe and report into the problem after the city and the navy complained, the department said the matter was discussed “regularly” with the navy.
Major repairs to the entire reticulation would be done “as soon as funding is available”.
Purchase said that minutes of meetings in 2008 recommended that the leaks be resolved. “We offered our help and for a company to go and do the testing for them.”
Some minor work had been undertaken, but “very little” had been done to address the main leak. It had been “a window dressing of the problem”.
It was common cause that the dockyard was old and that some water valves had developed leaks, Purchase added. “The recommendation was that they (the leaks) all needed to be repaired and then individual meters be installed at key points to monitor the usage and try to identify exactly where the leak was… This has not been done.”
The department appeared to be able to afford the R2 million-a-month operating expenditure for the dockyard water account but not capital expenditure to fix the problem “that would have been much less had they just dealt with it when first raised”. - Cape Argus