The second meeting of the Water Forum was held yesterday. Please note - this is my personal feedback, not the official minutes, and focussed mainly on the lower Jukskei-Crocodile. (If you do not want to receive these updates please let me know.)
The Northern Works is at the receiving end of an ageing, abused and collapsing sewer system. It experiences blockages due to what people across northern Joburg throw down the system; it has sewage and rainwater mixing due to superimposed sewers collapsing into each other; it lacks the pumping capacity to manage what comes down the sewers on a daily basis. In one year, Joburg Water needs to patrol 673 kms of sewers and clear, on average, one major blockage every day (365 a year)
That said, it seems clear to me that Joburg Water has been short-served by the budgets they’ve been given, by some poor designs from its own planning officials and outside consultants (manholes of inadequate size built in wrong places) and by sometimes unskilled and/or poorly managed staff. The upshot of this is a sewerage and rainwater sewer system permanently in crisis, exacerbated by the abuse of the system by its own users.
Northern Works (designed in 1947; commissioned in 1959!)
There were five broad areas that Joburg Water agreed to tackle as a matter of urgency following the sewage spills of July to September 2015 (cf the meeting of 26 November at Driefontein):
- Continual cable thefts interrupting pumping. A new security company was brought on board in November and since then the problem has not occurred
- Screens that filter the incoming effluent damaged and/or not working, causing spills into emergency dams and then the river. The first of new screens to be delivered this week and installed next week.
- Leaking mechanisms on the clarifiers which leads to effluent overflows into over-stretched emergency dam. Tender for new electrical equipment for the clarifiers and reactors closes 1 March; will be awarded in 90 days. Construction due probably in last part of the year.
- Overflowing emergency dams as a result of sludge build-up. Removing sludge and silt from these over-flowing dams - which have never been cleaned in over 50 years! -- will begin in the dry season (unable to do this work in the wet season). Dam One will be done first; Dam Two will follow in 2017.
- Lack of pumping capacity. A new pump station is under construction. The civils work is almost complete and the pump control system is now being tested.
Proposed new Lanseria Waste Water Works
As most if not all of you know, a new waste water works is planned for the four properties owned by City of Joburg on the southern edge of Hills and Dales (Rietfontein 532 JQ). A presentation was done by the Planning Engineer for these works. Some points:
- Timeframe. Design of works and tender process - 2014 to 2017
- Construction. 2017 to 2022
- Managing consultant: Zitholele Consortium, appointed December 2014. Nemai Consulting is the sub-contractor responsible for the environmental studies and public participation
- Design capacity. Total capacity of 150 megalitres per day (Northern Works - 405 megalitres per day). Phase one, for 2022, will be just 50 ml/day.
- Construction: will start with access roads, administration buildings and securing the perimeter.
- Technology. Latest technology will be used to ensure odour control, spillage management, etc. All the lessons learnt from Northern Works will be applied to this plant.
- Why build this plant on properties within a residential area rather than within the current Northern Works property? This is the lowest point within the CoJ property and gradient is important for gravity flow of the effluent. This minimises pumping, which is expensive and where mechanical problems often occur.
A very informative presentation on the state of the upper Jukskei River (source to Kyalami – 33 kms) was given by microbiologist, Dr Irwin Juckes of Edenvale RiverWatch. He has developed a Smartphone App to profile the course of the river and is prepared to set one up for the lower Jukskei as well. For this work, we will need people along the river to undertake a river-watch. He is also prepared to train us in bio-assessment. More on that later - I’ll be following up with Dr Juckes. If any of you would like Dr Juckes’ most interesting and illustrated report, please let me know and I’ll send it to you.
Thanks to those who gave information on the state of the river, and for your picture, Paul.
Yours - for now
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