Mangaung water issues: One step forward, two steps back…


Just as the Mangaung Metro informed Bloemfontein residents on Friday that the Brandkop reservoir’s water supply has been restored, another emergency shutdown was announced for repairs to a damaged pipeline.

A motorist on the R702, close to Caleb Motshabi at Bloemfontein, filmed a massive stream of water gushing out of the Welbedacht Dam’s pipeline across the road.

Mangaung residents are expected to be without water after contractors damaged a pipeline on the R702 outside Bloemfontein. The pipeline repair turnaround time is estimated at 12 hours, according to a statement by the Mangaung Metro Municipality.

Areas affected by the shutdown include Freedom Square, Grassland, Estoire smallholdings, N8 residents, Pinehaven, Bloemspruit and adjacent areas along the Maselspoort Road, the Bloemspruit Reservoir, and both the Grootvlei and Mangaung Maximum prisons.

Earlier this year, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, said construction of the Welbedacht Pipeline Project was almost complete. Phase 1 of the project, which consisted of 33 kilometres of pipe laying, was complete. He said they were going to engage with the National Treasury to fast-track phase 2’s construction to ensure the elimination of water disruptions caused by leaks due to ageing infrastructure.

The project entailed the construction of a new bypass pipeline from Leeuwkop chamber to the Brandkop reservoir. This project formed part of the department’s efforts to ensure adequate supply of potable water to residents of the metro.

The intervention plan to address the decaying water infrastructure comes after several pipe bursts in 2022. Mchunu promised that the department will work on the construction of new pipelines worth at least R 500 million.

In 2019, the same pipeline burst near Leeuwkop farm, also leading to an emergency shutdown. The pipe was damaged during the filling of the line when the Bloem Water Operations and Maintenance team completed their planned maintenance activities on the pipeline then.

In March 2022, Bloem Water confirmed the death of one of its employees.

Bloem Water spokesperson, Kido Thoabala, at the time said the employee passed away during the failure of a water pipeline at the Welbedacht Dam, where a pipe burst over the weekend.

This is the same pipeline that earlier left Mangaung residents without water for days, and shortly after it was repaired, the pipe burst again – causing some of the residents in the city to start National Water Week without water.

Bambatha Giko/OFM News