Press Release: Update on Water Situation

The City Manager and her team undertook a site visit this morning to both Mockes Dam and Masselspoort. Part of what was discovered is that there are farmers who are illegally extracting water between Masselspoort and Mockes Dam. As a result, Masselspoort levels are not rising at the expected rate.

They have admitted to the illegal extraction, and they have indicated that they have three more dams overflowing with the city’s water. We also discovered that the responsible farmers are distributing water to about 10 other farm properties. It appears that this illegal extraction has been happening for some time.

The municipality is the sole distributor of water, and none of the farmers in and around the area have water rights.

We have immediately instructed our legal representatives to approach the court for an interdict. This immediate intervention will assist in ensuring that water levels at Masselspoort rise rapidly. Once the extraction has been abruptly stopped, water levels are expected to rise by Tuesday, 28 January 2014.

We have also discovered that two sluice gates at Mockes Dam were blocked by debris, and this is disrupting the flow of water. As a result, this lowers the pace of raw water filling up the Masselspoort Weir, which supplies water to the broader community of Bloemfontein. The dam level at Mockes Dam is at an all time low due to draught and the heat waves that the city is experiencing.

In our endeavour to identify the obstruction, professional divers have been commissioned and this process will happen tomorrow morning. This is a technical operation; hence the city cannot just assign anybody.

It has also come to our attention that the Democratic Alliance, which is represented in the council, has opened a case against the municipality. We have tried to get the details of what is contained in the charges, so that we respond appropriately. The city has contacted the Investigating Officer, but could not reach them by the time of releasing this statement.

In rolling out the city’s water infrastructure plan, the Metro is in the process of upgrading the old pump systems at Masselspoort. The contract was awarded to Veolia Water for R65 million (excluding VAT) following the tender process.

The contract commenced on the 19th of August in 2013. The large pumps are in the process of being manufactured and project completion is scheduled for December 2014. Some of these large pumps are being imported. These new pumps with a much higher efficiency will increase the delivery of the raw water extraction and delivery of potable water to Bloemfontein from Masselspoort.

The following refurbishment upgrades are in process:

  1. Mechanical and electrical Contractual Completion – 22 October 2014
  2. Refurbishment of Pump Building – Civil Contractual Completion  – 21 May 2015
  3. Process upgrade to improve water quality  (In Preliminary design phase – 25 Feb 2014 Completion)

The city would like to apologise for all citizens affected by this interruption, and also appeal for patience.

Issued by:

MMM Communications

Call Centre: 0800 111 300