Gamtoos Irrigation Board News

Reflection on the de-watering period of the Gamtoos canal system

The Gamtoos Irrigation Board's big annual clean up process of the main canal went smoothly thanks to good planning and new equipment. Nine syphons were cleaned this year.

Leon Grundling, Water Control Manager, says the teamwork and communication between the different parties were much better this year.

"Our daily meetings and early planning contributed to the success. I am very proud of the team," Grundling says.

"Better power supply and new equipment made operations easier and faster."

Attention was given to the lush vegetation on the banks of the canal which hampered the cleaning process. It was pruned and a herbicide was put on it to prevent further growth.

Abey Maluleka, Manager of Works, says the extra two quality controllers and two health and safety officers increased the effectiveness of the syphons.

"Their reports were insightful and it was good to have an extra eye on the discipline at the sites," Abey says.

Andrè van Heerden, Mechanical Manager, says the extra vehicles that were hired to transport the workshop personnel, made operations smoother in the workshop during this busy time.

All the sluices' rubbers were replaced, K1 and 2 and Wolwekloof dam's pipes were replaced with stainless steel. Mondplaas dam also got a new stainless steel tank. Four syphon grids were replaced with galvanised steel. Eleven lids with 48 bolts each, were replaced with stainless steel bolts.

Maluleka says they designed a special trolley this year to remove the mud faster out of the syphons. "We usually had to use buckets to carry the mud out and it was a very slow process. Now we can push about 5 wheelbarrows full at a time to the crane truck."

Andrew Murray, the Main Water Control Officer says the biggest job this year was the syphon at White City which was last cleaned in 2006. The tunnel is 3.2km long.

Murray, an avid diver and who has a mining background, says he is not scared to climb into small spaces and can slip into the canal pipes without thinking twice. He has even climbed into a pipe as small as 50cm in diameter.

"The big danger is actually the dangerous bacteria that can cause gangrene within hours when it comes into contact with a scratch or open wound on your body," he says.

Grundling says it is because of these dangerous bacteria that they take special care not to leave any tools or equipment at the site, but lock them away safely.

Next year the syphons at Scheepers dam, Gonjakloof, Patensie and Robert Scott will have their turn.

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Contact details
Fred Ferreira Way, Patensie, 6335, Eastern Cape
087 806 7484
042 007 0382

Emergency Contact details
General 066 470 3782
R Colesky 083 703 0428
A Murray 083 490 1737
L Grundling 083 552 0157
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