Letter to Minister of Sport and Cultural AffairsJune 13, 2019
“Searching for the Light at the End of the Tunnel.”June 27, 2019
Plett Ratepayer Association’s Oliver Rissik, a Pr. Eng,, keeps a diligent eye over water, electricity and sewerage activities for Plett, and provided the following report for June.
The electricity tariff for Plett will increase 13% on 1 July 2019, the steep increase due to the Eskom debacle.
As a rule of thumb, the annual electrical maintenance budgetfor Municipalities should be 6-8% of electricity revenue; Bitou’s is significantly below that. Plett has old equipment, old mini subs, switch gear not up to par, and overhead lines needing upgrading. The major problem is aging infrastructure, but a lack of . qualified manpower is also a continuing problem.
Plett has seen huge growth in the townships, so most of the capital work at present is being done in Kwano and Qolweni. As a result, the required switch gear installations at Market Square substation (SS4), the Total garage substation (SS7), andthe new courthouse substation have not been started despite the required switch gear already being in the storage yard.
Street light maintenance is an ongoing problem. Main Street has been dark to semi-dark for at least five years, in spite of repeated requests that the lighting receive urgent attention. We were told the R1 million cherrypicker purchased last November would solve the problem, but the status quo remains…we’re still waiting for the repair schedule.
The budget request is for R18 million to be spent over the next three years to replace old street lights with LED units, and to install lights along Beacon Way. We hope that in the interim the existing lights will be kept working.
A thermal image detector device will be purchased for R10,000 to detect faulty insulators on overhead power lines, which has been a problem particularly on the Keurboomsoverhead line..
An Electrical Master Plan is being updated by consultants which will list priorities for infrastructure upgrade work.
Plett’s water system is complicated because it involves several reservoirs, pump stations, desalination plant, and over 300 kms of reticulation piping. A major portion of the fibre cement piping is old and needs replacement!
Residents along Marine Drive and the older sections of Plett experience water bursts on a regular basis due to old pipes. Old fiber-cement pipe replacement is due to start in Poortjies this year. R3 million is budgeted for this and additional pipe replacement for the coming financial year..
Fortunately, Plett’s water supply is adequate at present. Roodefontein Dam is 90.8% full. The flow measuring weir on the Keurbooms River is currently under maintenance. The Keurbooms flow provides good, clean water. (see photo).
Two boreholes drilled on the Plett Golf Course are now feeding into the treatment plant. These two boreholes, together with the one at the purification plant, give about 1/3 of the off-season total water usage for Bitou. The only disadvantage is the quantity of iron in the borehole water, which, although removable, adds to the cost of purification.
Nature’s Valley water upgrade is partially complete. The new pipeline to the planned new storage reservoir is complete, but the reservoir still has to be constructed and construction will begin this coming financial year.
Harkerville has been sourcing water from a neighboring farmer’s borehole to the informal settlement at an exorbitant cost of R25 per kl as compared to the current delivered price of water in Plett, which is a fraction of this amount. The new borehole is now fully operational, bringing to an end the high cost of water from the adjacent farm borehole.
The desalination plant has been turned off as its water supply is not required at present. It is run once a month for a day as a maintenance measure. It is used as a booster during high season, starting mid-November until end April, and its cost is approximately R4 per kl versus R0.25 per kl extraction cost from the Keurbooms River.
Plans for building the Wadrift off-channel Dam at Uplands at an original cost estimate of R 120 mil. ( now closer to R 200 mil.) have been discussed for years – delayed by red tape and other factors. Water would be pumped to this storage dam during high flows in the Keurbooms River. However, due to the river flow restriction of 500 l/sec. (below which no extraction may take place) and the high cost of the dam, alternative sources of water supply are being investigated (additional boreholes, increasing the Desalination Plant capacity etc.).
Four boreholes have been sunk in the Kwano area to augment the supply when required, but are not commissioned yet. Bitou’s water supply is adequate at present, but it is not keeping pace with growth and demand.
Plett has 72 sewer pump stations due to its topography, pumping sewage from all areas to the sewage treatment plantat Ganse Valei near Old Nick’s Village. 18 pump stations are in need of substantial repairs/maintenance of which 15, we are told, will be done as a matter of priority.
Budget constraints for both electrical and water infrastructure, as well as qualified personnel, continue to be a limiting factor for requirements necessary to upgrade the aging infrastructure which has been neglected for a considerable time.