Water woes bubble to the surface in Tokai, Kirstenhof

Mike Greef of Tokai with a piece of broken asbestos piping.

Asbestos piping, polluted water and burst pipes are some of the issues Kirstenhof and Tokai residents raised at a meeting last week.

Ward councillor Carolynne Franklin set up the meeting with City officials at Kirstenhof Primary School. Attending were representatives from the department of water and sanitation; mayoral committee member for water Zahid Badroodien; Sub-council 20 chairwoman Xanthea Limberg, herself a former mayoral committee member for water and sanitation; and sub-council manager Richard White.

Mike Greef, of Dennedal Road, Tokai, emptied a plastic bag of broken asbestos piping from his property in front of Dr Badroodien and, waving paper showing six reference numbers for burst pipes, said that the statistics of water leaks in Kirstenhof and Tokai, presented at the meeting by the City’s regional operations manager, Clyde Koen, did not reflect the correct numbers.

Mr Koen replied that the figures for the past 10 years for burst pipes and other potable-water incidents in Tokai and Kirstenhof could be inaccurately captured or logged for a different address to the one where the problem lay, for example, in a road, pavement or public area.

Sue Lancaster, of Sunwood Drive, Tokai, said she had had seven burst pipes in three months. “One day, I had to bathe in the swimming pool because I was taking a flight,” she said.

Peter Lane, of Welgelee Road, complained of polluted water coming through his pipes. He believed the water was contaminated with copper because when soap was added to the water, it turned blue.

Dr Badroodien said that due to the drought (between 2015 and 2018) some residents had installed measures to provide water and they possibly had not installed non-return systems, which was something the City was addressing. A non-return valve ensures that pneumatic pressure flows in a single direction and is fitted to prevent reversed flow, also known as backflow.

Barry Tranter, chairperson of Kirstenhof Residents’ Association, complained of low water pressure in the area.

Dr Badrodien said mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis planned to replace 50km of pipes this year, 100km in 2023 and 114km in 2024, at a cost R300 million across the city. Pump-station upgrades were also planned.

Don Kourie, chairperson of Tokai Residents’ Association, asked for a higher percentage spend for the Tokai area and for the pipes to be fixed sooner than 25 years. Dr Badroodien said they could look into that.

Another resident asked about non-revenue water (NRW) losses – this is water pumped out by municipalities that never reaches the intended recipients.

According to the World Bank Group’s 2030 Water Resources Group – a public, private civil society multi-donor trust fund – approximately 41% of municipal water in South Africa should be considered NRW. This is against a global best-practice figure for NRW losses of around 15%.

South African municipalities are losing about R9.9 billion annually because of NRW losses, according to the 2030 Water Resources Group.

Dr Badroodien said the water residents were billed for included water lost through leaks and burst pipes in public spaces, some of which had been leaking for months. He encouraged residents to report leaks to help reduce the loss.

Ms Franklin said she estimated that barely 1% of affected Tokai residents attended the meeting despite it being well advertised on social media.

“Of the 27 people in attendance, 12 were from Kirstenhof and Norfolk Park who aren’t even affected by the current state of play,” she said.

She urged residents to log service requests about water issues and do so through the right channels – WhatsApp 063 4073 699, email water@capetown.gov.za, call 0860 103 089 or SMS 31373.

From left: Ward 71 councillor Carolynne Franklin, mayoral committee member for water Zahid Badroodien, City regional operations manager Clyde Koen, and City officials responsible for water meters Shukrey Behardien and Noeghiedeen Hendricks.
Mike Greef waving paper showing six reference numbers for burst pipes.

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