Two more years of water woes for Bay suburbs as city drills new boreholes

Once completed, the decade-long, R340m project will be SA’s largest biofiltration plant

09 October 2020 - 11:06
The Bay’s infrastructure and engineering head, Mongameli Bobani, with water and sanitation director Barry Martin and senior official Edward Verseput during a site visit to the Coegakop wellfield and water treatment works project on Thursday.
HIGH HOPES: The Bay’s infrastructure and engineering head, Mongameli Bobani, with water and sanitation director Barry Martin and senior official Edward Verseput during a site visit to the Coegakop wellfield and water treatment works project on Thursday.
Image: SUPPLIED

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

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

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 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 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,  so let us continue using water sparingly.”

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

“Our dams are now producing 260 megalitres of water a day but consumers need 290 megalitres a day.

“If we do nothing now, 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 department treating underground water and supplying residents with  drinkable water.

“We have drilled boreholes on the other side of Coegakop and have laid pipes.”

He said the cost was about R50m.

“This contract has to do with building a water treatment facility because the water was high in iron and manganese and not 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. The water produced would relieve the Nooitgedagt treatment works — which would then ramp up supply to the western suburbs.

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