JOB FOR SUPERPLUMBER: JOBURG’S MAJOR WATER PIPE BURST

JOB FOR SUPERPLUMBER: JOBURG’S MAJOR WATER PIPE BURST

Joburg Water technicians braved treacherous conditions yesterday to restore water to the northern suburbs in the biggest and most complex repair job ever done to the city’s water reticulation system.

Workers toiled 35m underground to fix a 1.6m pipe that takes water from the Rand Water supply to Johannesburg’s reservoirs.

The Times visited Linbro Park, near Alexandra, where work was under way.

Nico de Jager, a member of the mayoral committee for environmental and infrastructure services, was on site to see how the work was progressing.

“The problem is that a landfill site was developed above our water supply infrastructure … There are layers and layers of old rubbish on top of it,” De Jager said.

“The burst happened underneath the pipe. What made it more difficult is that there is a concrete chamber over the pipe …

“This is the biggest job ever undertaken by Joburg Water.

“Our main concern is the people who are working here. We have to be careful because you could have people buried alive. The land is unstable and there is groundwater coming out of the walls of the trench.

“… The pressure on the pipe is 22bars … if you were to point this pipe into the air the water would shoot up 220m.”

The repair work began on Friday after a leak was discovered and water pressure began to drop in the area.

Technicians went on site to fix a leak in a 600mm pipe that runs parallel to the big pipe.

The small pipe supplies water to the neighbourhood. It was only when they were fixing the small pipe that they discovered a leak in the big one.

The small pipe had eight leaks that were fixed but by then water had covered the whole area. Additional excavation was necessary to allow the noxious gases generated by the rubbish in the landfill site to escape.

Technicians have been working around the clock to get the water supply restored.

Areas affected include Sandton, Bryanston, Woodmead, Morningside and Alexandra. Water tankers have been servicing them.

When the pipe is fixed the system will be flushed to make sure the water is clean. Supply was due to be restored by Wednesday.

PENWELL DLAMINI / TimesLive

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