Looking back, on 20 January 2022, Newcastillian News reported that the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) confirmed the issue with the Department’s former spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau explaining, “The Infrastructure Management team at the Department of Water and Sanitation is in the process of having it repaired.”
To read the article, click here.
As explained on the Newcastle Municipality’s website in 2015, under normal circumstances, the Water Service Areas are supplied with purified bulk water from the following water plants and raw water resources:
- The Newcastle municipal areas, including Madadeni, Osizweni, Kilbarchan and the Eskom village, are supplied with purified bulk water via the Ngagane Water Purification Plant, which obtains its raw water extraction mainly from the Ntshingwayo Dam.
- The Amajuba District municipal areas of Dannhauser and Durnacol are supplied with raw water from the Ntshingwayo Dam; and the rural areas of Steildrift, Waterval, and Alcockspruit are supplied with purified water from the Ngagane Water Purification Plant, sourced from the Ntshingwayo Dam.
- The Emadlangeni (Utrecht) area is supplied with purified water locally obtained from the perennial Dorpspruit River and its storage dam. The capability exists that this supply can be augmented via the Emadlangeni bulk water supply line that feeds off the Ngagane Water Purification Plant via the Ntshingwayo Dam.
This was confirmed in 2017 by the Department of Water and Sanitation, which highlighted that the dam provides water to Newcastle, Dannhauser and Dundee and also supplements Utrecht.
With the Ntshingwayo (Chelmsford) Dam, therefore, playing an instrumental role in water supply, Newcastillian News followed up with the Department of Water and Sanitation in April 2022 to establish the progress of the work.
At the time of the article’s publication, Ratau explained that the Infrastructure Management team at the department was still in the process of having it repaired.
“The department is finalising the appointment of a professional service provider to manufacture, deliver, install and commission one radial gate at Ntshingwayo Dam.”
At the time, Ratau affirmed an emergency gate/stop log had been installed as a temporary solution.
To read the full article, click here.
Following this, local farmers in the area stepped forward in August 2022 and explained that no work was being done on the dam and that they were willing to step up and help repair the damage.
However, after all this time and the dam still not repaired, Ratau declared that the department had finalised the appointment of the Contractor that would manufacture and install the radial gate.
At the time, he said that the contractor had been on-site and was working on manufacturing the radial gate. “It should be noted that this is specialised, and therefore it takes time”.
Additionally, Ratau also claimed that the DWS had been on site since the repair work allegedly began.
When looking at the time taken to repair the radial gate, Ratau assured me there were no delays. “The department is following the procurement process as prescribed by the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act).”
To read more, click here.
With Chelmsford dam’s levels continually being a concern, In August 2022, Newcastillian News again followed up on the matter to establish if the job was eventually complete. This is especially considering the region was a mere month away from the Spring rains season, being an opportunity for the dam to once again fill up.
At the time, Ratau noted, “The total implementation is estimated to be in the order of twelve months but can only be affirmed once a proposal is received from the contractor.”
To read more, click here.
With the above-mentioned and Ratau constantly assuring throughout the past year that there was no water wastage, how has work proceeded since August 2022?
Offering an entirely new take on all of this, the newly appointed spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation, Mavasa Wisane told Newcastillian News, “Due to the complexity of the work, the Department is still finalising the scope of work for the appointment of the contractors.”
With this in mind, Newcastillian News asked when could Newcastle and its neighbouring communities expect the work to actually be completed?
“The provisional programme received indicates a duration of seven months. It is therefore anticipated that the work will be completed within seven months upon appointment of the contractor,” said Wisane.
With the Department once again assuring there was no water wastage due to the broken sluice gate during the course of 2022, Newcastillian News pointed out that the Ntshingwayo Dam’s levels have dropped significantly and continue to remain low.
According to the Department’s KZN Provincial State of Dams, dated 16 January 2023, the Ntshingwayo Dam levels are currently standing at 67%. This is despite the recent torrential rainfalls and the former spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau boasting that the dam’s levels were standing at 80.9% in January 2022.
When asked what were the contributing factors to declining levels, despite the recent torrential rainfall?
Wisane explained that the dam is designed to contain 80% as the design rule, however, in the absence of the sluice, there is an impact of 12% loss of water that cannot be contained. This would mean, that there clearly is water wastage at Chelsmford Dam.
Moreover, Newcastillian News asked what steps are the Department of Water and Sanitation taking to ensure there are no water shortfalls in the coming months? Especially as the region will now exit the rainy season and prepares to enter the dry, winter season.
“DWS has operation rules for the dam to manage water demand and supply annually especially going into the dry seasons. With the status quo, the Dept is working with the water users within the area that the dam supplies to conserve water and use what they have sparingly and sustainably. In a case where dam levels get low, the department will implement water restrictions to control abstractions,” Wisane explained.
In other words, countless residents across multiple towns need to just wait and if the water gets too low, due to the department continually not repairing the problem and sourcing this illusive “contractor”, we could face water restrictions in the coming months.
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