The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has started a process of drilling boreholes to explore alternative sources of water, to reduce pressure from the dams that supply the city.

The project, which costs R250 million, is situated in Coega and has been named the Coega Kop Wellfield.

So far R50 million has been used for five boreholes which are 200 metres deep. The municipality is also expected to build a Water Treatment Plant worth R230 million where the borehole water would be redirected for purification.

The whole project is expected to be completed in 2019.

Nelson Mandela Bay Director for Water and Sanitation Barry Martin says that they cannot provide the borehole water to the community yet as they still need to disinfect it.

“We anticipate to get between 15 and 20 megalitres of water out of these boreholes we are busy drilling here. You can drink it as it is at the moment, but on the long-term, because of its iron and magnesium, we foresee problems therefore we cannot provide it to the community in that way – and also there’s no disinfection in the water as it comes underground. Remember it goes into the reservoir and it must go into the pipes, and if it stays in the reservoir for 24 hours or 48 hours until somebody use it. We must ensure the water is disinfected when it get to the end user that is safe to drink.”

Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Mongameli Bobani says this is not the only source of water they are exploring to ensure the city does not run out of the precious resource.

“This is not the only resource in terms of the boreholes that the city is looking at. You will remember in terms of our plans as the new government, we are also looking at the desalination plant. So it’s actually on the pipelines. The desalination plant was actually approved by the council in 2007 and 2008 as another commodity that we are going to use to ensure that in 50 years to come, we are not dry so that we can be able to have water.”