On 19 April 2023, Dawie van Wyk and Bill Rowlston of PARRA attended to a site visit at Sarel Hayward Dam with Ndlambe LM employees to do an inspection of the SHD, pump stations and Balancing Dam. Dawie attended to a report (seen below) which was sent to Ndlambe LM and the Municipal Manager for comment.
We have been updated since this report that repairs are being attended to (a subsequent inspection by our Water Portfolio Exco will be arranged to verify). We have also been advised that the two RO Plants are now fully functioning in Port Alfred. The water level at the weir has already dropped considerably, which is of concern. Work is continuing on one submersible pump and the dedicated pump that pumps water directly from behind the weir to the Sarel Hayward Dam.
PARRA continues to have a hands-on monitoring approach and open dialogue with Ndlambe LM about the status of this valuable resource.
Please see the Report below:
Site Visit to the Sarel Hayward Dam, Pump Stations 1 & 2 and the Balancing Dam 19thApril 2023
Port Alfred Ratepayer’s and Residents Association
Various press reports indicated that the weir at Waters Meet was overflowing but none of the pumps at Pumps Station No 1 were operational and so no water could be pumped into the Sarel Hayward Dam. This would be third time in the last few years that this has happened. The Kowie River flows strongly to fill up behind the weir but when Ndlambe LM want to pump the excess water into the Sarel Hayward Dam they find that none of the pumps are operational. Repeated requests to the Director of Infrastructure by PARRA to have a planned maintenance schedule drawn up so one can see if the pumps at Pumps Station No 1 and 2 are operational has repeatedly been ignored.
Pictures showing the water level behind the weir which was still overflowing at the weekend.
- Pumps Station No 1
On arrival at Pump Station No 1 only one of five pumps at the Pump Station (which had been switched on that morning) was working. The two Submersible pumps, the second Surface pump and the Dedicated pump which pumps water from behind the weir directly to the Sarel Hayward Dam (we understood) are all not working and need to be repaired.
Picture above of Pump Station No 1 shows the second Surface Pump normally situated beyond the first one had been removed presumably to be repaired. The picture on the right above is of the 5thPump which pumps water from behind the weir through a dedicated pipeline directly to the SHD was also being repaired.
- Discussion on the continuous failing of the pumps at Pump Station No 1
It was understood from the Consultant on site that the earthling system at Pump Station No 1 was rusted and compromised resulting in the continuous tripping and failure of the pumps. A new earthling system is currently being installed.
Pictures below show the installation of a new earthling system and the new copper conductors
- Pump Station No 2
Two of the four pumps were operational and this is sufficient to supply water to Port Alfred, the balancing dam and the Nemato Water Treatment Works. Most of the telemetry is not working except for one unit that measures the volume of water being pumped to Port Alfred.
When the water behind the weir is full the normal practise using Pump Stations 1 and 2 is to send 40% of the water to the Sarel Hayward Dam and 60% to Port Alfred.
Picture below of Pump Station No 2 and the only functional telemetry connection
- Sarel Hayward Dam
The dam level appears to be static just above the second outlet. There is no water currently being pumped into the dam which is extremely worrying as the dam has only been used to supply water to Port Alfred as the two RO Plants (1 and 2 ML) are not functional at the moment. This obviously then depletes the level in the Sarel Hayward Dam.
Picture below of the level of the SHD estimated to be > 30% full
- Balancing Dam
This dam was at a very low level and full of algae (which should have been cleared when the balancing dam was empty). A strong flow of water can now be seen flowing into the balancing dam from Pump Station No 2
It is obvious that the control of the maintenance of pumps at Pump Stations No 1 and No 2 is totally inadequate. These two Pumps Stations (one to fill the Sarel Hayward Dam and the other to pump water into Port Alfred) should be high on the Director’s list of key installations that should be maintained and kept operational at all times. Every time the water flows into the weir at Waters Meet we find the pumps at these Pump Stations have been ignored and are not functional. This is totally unacceptable and the Ratepayer’s and Residents Association is extremely unhappy by this repeated failure to adequately maintain these Pump Stations so that when the water flows down to the weir on the Kowie River one can fill up the Sarel Hayward Dam.
There is also huge safety concern as the Pump Stations No 1 and No 2 have no security fences and extremely vulnerable to vandalism. There are two large standby generators that have no security fences around them. There is also a huge hole in the fence next to the gate at the Balancing Dam. There were also no service providers on site when we were there.
Dawie van Wyk
Vice Chair PARRA