Hout Bay runs dry

A large part of Hout Bay went without water for a few days after a valve repeatedly burst forcing locals to queue for water supplied through City water tankers.

By Tauriq Hassen

For nearly two days, the Hout Bay community was without water, left to depend on the City of Cape Town’s tankers to access water.

Those affected had to contend with long queues, limited water, late deliveries and also having their calls cut when the City’s complaints centre could no longer field complaints due to the large volume of calls coming through.

Emergency repairs were carried out by the City’s Water and Sanitation Department on a valve that burst over the weekend. But it burst again and once again additional repair work had to be done.

After having bought nearly 700 litres of water over the two days, Esmeralda Collins from Hout Bay, said locals were not happy with the City’s response to the problem.

“We had to wait on water tankers and when you get there, water was nearly up or had to be refilled again. There were people arguing, over water man, how ridiculous can this get?” Ms Collins said.

However, she added, she had been happy to see many people pulling together as well, including one resident who had invited others to collect from the well at her home.

“We read about it on social media and I thought to myself how kind and through these rough times, we always find Hout Bay locals pulling together,” said Ms Collins who had also handed out nearly 300 litres of water to neighbours.

“We were all in it together.”

In Imizamo Yethu, frustration grew as queues of people waited hours for water.

Mzwanele Kakushe, who lives there, said he waited nearly three hours for water.

“We had to carry water from these points to home, but we wait and wait for nothing. All we want the City to help with is provide water, because the City’s pipes was broken,” he said.

Community leader, Kenny Tokwe, described the situation as “crazy”, highlighting the importance of having water.

“People in the community were really panicking and started saying that it would be better to have load shedding than not have water. This really showed us that water is really life,” he said.

He confirmed that the City had provided water trucks and created two areas to collect water from – at the bottom of IY and close to the Hout Bay Cemetery.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas apologised repeatedly for the disruptions caused by the shut off of the water supply.

After hours of work, he was pleased to report that many areas had had their water supply returned to normal.

“Unfortunately, the line supporting parts of Northshore, Mt Rhodes and Llandudno have a great deal of debris in the form of silt and rocks as a result of the pipe burst there, and the system is being jetvacced to clear the blockage and then requires flushing to ensure water quality before it can fill the reservoir,” Mr Quintas explained.

According to the City, residents in higher lying areas may experience water which is white in colour, due to the high levels of oxygen in the water as a result of pressure to drive water supply “uphill”. Those in lower lying areas may experience slightly brown discoloured water, a result of silt and sediments in the pipes. Both declared safe to drink.

“I will reiterate that I have asked the department for a full public open day as soon as possible to explain to the community what the problems are and what the strategies going forward in terms of upgrades and maintenance are in order to address what is a very clear and evident problem,” Mr Quintas said.