Someone left the water running …

Leslie McKenzie, Sea Point

7.30am: My door buzzes with news that there’s a burst water main outside our block in St James Road. I tell him to buzz Mr S in No.1 as I no longer handle maintenance.

I dress and go downstairs out of curiosity. Water is gushing at a furious rate from under a whole strip of road tarmac outside driveway of Villa Tiberina next door.

I am told ‘no answer’ from No. 1.

7.35am: I return to my flat, call the City of Cape Town water emergencies number, press 1 or 2 a few times and try to explain what and where…

I am eventually assured that the woman has the details and will report it to whoever does the actual work.

7.40am: I take bucket downstairs, fill it from raging torrent about 50 or more times, and water plants on pavement and on site.

The guy from church across does same with small waste bin. I lend him my bucket.

8.15am: I return to flat. I try to call the City again and am told they have the report.

Back in flat I find no running water at all in cold feed, trickle out of hot feed.

Luckily I have plenty spring water for drinking and light washing, but no kettle, sink, bath, shower or toilet.

8.30am: I leave for a morning walk. The flood has stopped.

10.30am: I return to find no flood, but also no repairs taking place. The strip of road outside neighbour’s driveway will have to be removed to reveal the break. Meanwhile, there is no water into our block.

11.15am: I call the City again and get recorded message: “We have water outage in (indecipherable) and thank you for your patience”. Is this how Council deals with emergencies? Not too reassuring, is it?

12.30pm: I went down to check on people gathering at the pipe-burst scene and found the roadway chopped open and two guys excavating a hole, with pile of rocks and muddy clay and lots of muddy water. A further 1m down they reached the broken pipe, an ancient old thing.

I watched for a while, then went off to buy them some Coke.

3.30pm: I went down to check on their progress. A huge blue pipe was being fitted to replace broken bits. Another huge vehicle, loaded with sand and one of those lobster claw-like hydraulic scoops now on scene.

With the new pipe securely fixed to both ends with mammoth clamping things, lobsterlad started filling hole with sand, followed by some small aggragate gravel and possibly cement.

3.45pm: They could not start the mechanical stamper – the cord broke. They needed a 10mm ring spanner to open the grill. Luckily I had one.

They prodded around for a while, and managed to get stamper stamping.

4.10pm: All done and they were ready to leave.

I passed on a warm and sincere thanks on behalf of all residents, and said: “You folk must be pleased to be going home at last”. “Ha. If only. We’re off to do another job in Pinelands”.

4.15pm: Any idea what a pleasure, joy and thrill it is to open the kitchen tap and get running water?

Sometimes . We just don’t know, do we?