Bonkolo Dam wall could burst: Lack of maintence dangerous

WELCOME RAINS: A photo of the greatly increased capacity of the Bonkolo Dam, which was taken after the heavy rainfall on Wednesday Picture: REINETTE ROODT

The recent rainfall seems to have given the Bonkolo Dam a boost as the dam has been very close to empty in recent years, raising concern.

The bigger elephant in the room, however, is the crack showing on the dam wall.

Local farmer Simon Sutton said his father had informed the municipality that there was a crack in the wall more than 10 years ago.

“Work was done to monitor the movement of the wall, however nothing was done about the crack.

“With the wonderful rains that have fallen this season, most farm dams in the Bonkolo basin are full and overflowing, which results in a large amount of inflow into the Bonkolo Dam.

“I am no engineer, but if the dam wall had to break, Komani and Mlungisi would be in serious trouble.

“Hopefully Chris Hani District Municipality [CHDM] who are responsible for water in Komani are being proactive in this regard. Otherwise many lives may be at stake,” he said.

Komani resident Delia Moorcroft said the dam had deteriorated due to lack of maintenance in the past 26 years.

“The dam was built to provide water for the area more than 100 years ago.

“It was also a place where you could go to watch watersports or fish and it was a lovely day’s outing.

“Now that has been lost to the town and its people.“

Moorcroft said dams must be maintained by being kept free from litter and weeds.

“In times of drought when the water levels drop is when you are meant to dredge the dam of all the sediment build-up. Otherwise you lose capacity of the dam.

“If one were to take a look at the photographs of when the wall was built compared with recent ones, one could spot the metres of build-up.

“It is just under the outlet pipe now. They should have looked at a new and bigger outlet pipe as well to support the town that has grown.

“The question has been whether the sluice gates that control water levels and flow rates in the dam were still above the soil build-up and when last were they tested?

“In the last 26 years no one has been out to check the wall for any form of movement.”

She said maintaining the wall should be in CHDM’s annual maintenance budgets.

“How do you put a value on people’s lives? If that dam wall had to give way when full, a lot of properties that have been built below the 100-year floodline will be gone.

“Quality work is needed by qualified engineers to [maintain it],” Moorcroft said.

CHDM acting spokesperson Bulelwa Ganyaza said the municipality would issue a report on the matter soon.

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