Nelson Mandela Bay businesses and municipality team up to fix water leaks and avert humanitarian crisis

2022-06-17  Denise Van Huyssteen


Nelson Mandela Bay businesses and municipality team up to fix water leaks and avert humanitarian crisis


The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s Adopt A Leak intervention for local businesses to partner with the municipality in repairing the severe backlog of water leaks in the metro has been given the green light and will roll out over the next few days.


The metro approved the Adopt A Leak partnership between the municipality and the Chamber, whereby local businesses volunteer their resources and services to speed up the pace of repairing water leaks, at an emergency meeting on contingency measures to deal with the water crisis earlier this week.


In a joint statement with the municipality today, Business Chamber chief executive Denise van Huyssteen welcomed the go-ahead for business to get involved in averting the water crisis in the Bay and said “now is the time for collaboration and action”.


“We cannot allow the issues which brought us to the point of this water crisis to distract us. Rather, we should put our energy into the positive actions we can take to ensure water security for the next few weeks, and also for the longer-term.


“The willingness of business and civil society to freely volunteer their time, resources, and services in the face of a high risk of a health and humanitarian crisis is heartening, as is the willingness of the municipality to collaborate.  By standing together and coordinating our efforts, we can make the greatest impact in the shortest time,” she said.


Van Huyssteen said the most immediate priority was to address a backlog of 3 500 water leaks which account for 29% of the metro’s water consumption and have seen the municipality struggle to keep up as new leaks are reported almost as fast as existing ones are repaired.


Through a partnership of the municipality, Gift of the Givers and the Business Chamber, efforts are also underway to drill boreholes, trace and reinstate unused existing boreholes, and install rainwater harvesting tanks at water collection points to be filled by municipal tankers.


The metro’s water crisis Joint Operations Centre (JOC) spokesperson Luvuyo Bangazi said the partnership signalled the commitment of government, business and civil society to work together with common purpose to avert the water crisis. “This means we have more boots on the ground to reverse the backlog of water leaks, which will immediately reduce consumption, to stave off taps running dry. Collaboration means that we can work more efficiently and effectively, cut the red tape, and get the work done, urgently,” he said.


Areas with high concentrations of water leaks will be prioritised for deploying the expertise and resources offered by business and the Chamber will appoint a consulting engineer to oversee the project and work together with the municipality’s Infrastructure and Engineering Directorate to manage the flow of water leak reports and resolution.


Van Huyssteen warned that over the next few weeks, due to the limited supply of water, ongoing water disruptions across Nelson Mandela Bay are likely – impacting all parts of the metro and not just areas in the “red zones”. 

“This means that all residents and stakeholders of the Metro need to drastically reduce their water consumption levels.  By doing this we can help bring stability to the water supply system.


“Now is the time for collaboration and action.  Every single one of us needs to play our part in reducing daily water consumption levels, implementing alternative water solutions, recycling water, installing water tanks and other rainwater harvesting measures and ensuring that we are supporting our communities to have access to water,” she said.


As part of the water crisis mitigation measures Gift of the Givers will be focusing their efforts on drilling boreholes around the metro to ensure improved accessibility of water for communities and to equitable distribution of water supply.


Van Huyssteen appealed to the business community to support these efforts by sponsoring pumps and donating Jojo tanks.


Adopt A Leak is a similar concept to the Chamber’s Adopt A School initiative which aims to reduce the 10% contribution of schools to the metro’s water leaks challenge. Local businesses have supported 46 schools and clinics to date with plumbing maintenance and repairing leaks, as well as providing alternative water solutions such as rainwater tanks and boreholes.


Van Huyssteen said Adopt A Leak, Adopt A School and humanitarian interventions provided a platform for business to get involved and help avert the risks of a water crisis, and were being implemented in partnership with Gift of the Givers and the municipality.


Businesses willing to volunteer expertise and resources to Adopt A Leak, or contribute to the Water Crisis Fund, can contact the Business Chamber on 041 373 1122 or email taskteams@nmbbusinesschamber.co.za


Residents can stay informed and empowered by visiting  www.baywatersavers.co.za , and get up to date information on the go, instantly by messaging, Water via WhatsApp to 064 744 7721.