Newcastle’s water infrastructure is facing unprecedented pressure, compelling the Newcastle Municipality to commit R1.5 billion towards long term solutions aimed at addressing this growing concern.
Mthandeni Myende, Head of Communications at Newcastle Municipality, elaborated on the imminent projects, attributing their necessity to emerging issues affecting not only Newcastle East but also promising benefits for both Newcastle West and East.
Explaining the situation, Myende said that the Newcastle Municipality is constitutionally bound to provide safe drinking water to all its residents. However, the remarkable population growth in Newcastle East over the past 10 years has exerted severe stress on the existing water infrastructure.
Compounding the strain on the infrastructure, Myende revealed that in rural areas and villages previously served by rudimentary water supply schemes, numerous individuals have now illegally connected themselves to the water supply network.
Furthermore, certain communities in rural villages, such as Manzana, Mndozo, and Dickshalt, have been legally integrated into the reticulation network by the Newcastle Municipality.
This additional demand has placed further pressure on the water supply, detrimentally affecting areas like Madadeni and Osizweni townships, where water pressure has dwindled, or water supply has altogether ceased.
In response to this situation and in light of criticism from the South African Human Rights Commission regarding the Municipality and Water Service Authorities inability to provide all residents with potable water, previously unconnected communities have now been linked to the bulk water supply, with the exception of those who have illegally connected themselves. Nevertheless, this well intentioned move has led to a water supply shortage for legally registered consumers in both Madadeni and Osizweni.
To mitigate this shortage, Myende announced a specific water supply schedule for communities in Mndozo, KwaMlimi, and part of Madoneza villages, who will receive water on Thursdays and Sundays from 4 am to 12 pm.
“As such, the said communities are encouraged to ensure that during the mentioned days, they store enough water, using their containers to cover them until the next time when water is released to them,” said Myende.
With a view to addressing the situation, the Newcastle Municipality’s upcoming projects are poised to benefit residents of both Newcastle West and Newcastle East.
Explaining further, Myende outlined medium term solutions which include:
- The exploration of groundwater, which if discovered, will be able to augment the water supply to the system.
- Applications for a water use licence to abstract water from the uMzinyathi River and construct a treatment facility.
Furthermore, long term solutions, which may require three years or more for implementation, include:
- The Newcastle Municipality will work with the Department of Water and Sanitation to upgrade the Ntshingwayo (Chelmsford) Dam abstraction works.
- Upgrading raw water bulk (main) pipelines from the dam to water treatment works.
- Upgrading the Water Treatment Works from 120 ml/d to 170 ml/d.
- Upgrading of clear water rising mains from the Water Treatment Works to Braakfontein and Hilldrop Reservoirs.
- The construction of new clear water reservoirs.
“The estimated cost for proposed long term solutions is R1.5 billion. The business plan in this regard has been submitted to the Department of Water and Sanitation for its consideration and approval. However, the medium term solutions have not been costed yet,” said Myende.
While the Newcastle Municipality addresses the strain placed on the local water supply, Myende explained the municipal entity was determined to stop water wastage in the process. He highlighted the biggest concern when it came to water wastage in Newcastle West was the aging infrastructure.
He further pointed out that contractors in Aviary Hill and Arbor Park were currently replacing old asbestos pipes with more robust UPVC pipes. The Aviary Hill project, initiated in June 2023, involves replacing 10.3 km of aging asbestos cement pipes and installing pressure reducing valves. According to Myende, the project is set to conclude by February 2024.
To read more about the Aviary Hill project, click here.
While the completion of the Arbor Park project could not be confirmed, Myende said that the Newcastle Municipality was determined to protect its water sources, ensuring there was no wastage and everyone had access to running water.
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