PMB water hike to help pay for dam

2012-03-26 00:00

ELEVEN percent of the Msunduzi Municipality’s proposed 22% water hike will go towards paying for the new Spring Grove dam near Mooi River.

Local ratepayers’ and resident’s organisations, like the Msunduzi Rates Forum, want to know why their municipal tariffs are being used to fund a national infrastructure project, given that they already contribute to the national tax base.

Details of the dam charges emerged when Umgeni Water, which is the bulk water supplier for Msunduzi, was asked why it was increasing its tariff by more than 17%.

Msunduzi’s executive committee last week proposed to add an extra 4,5% to the Umgeni tariff hike, to pay for maintenance of the city’s water infrastructure.

This means that the proposed tariff hike for water is almost three times more than last year’s eight percent increase.

Shami Harichunder, Umgeni’s corporate stakeholder manager, said that the water utility’s proposed bulk tariff increase, which was 17,1%, made up a capital unit charge that Umgeni Water has been requested to collect on behalf of the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) for the Spring Grove Dam.

Harichunder said this capital unit charge amounted to 0,408 cents.

Therefore, the proposed new tariff for the Msunduzi Local Municipality would be R4,327, or 17,1%, which comprises 6,1% in bulk tariff increase — the tariff for Umgeni’s potable water — plus 11% as a capital unit charge levied on behalf of the DWA and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority.

He added the water utility’s proposed 17,1% tariff was still to be approved by the National Minister of Water Affairs, Edna Molewa.

“The minister has yet to respond to both tariffs. Umgeni Water’s role insofar as the capital unit charge is concerned is that of a collection agency,” he said.

Harichunder said the Spring Grove Dam, presently under construction as part of the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme-2, would increase the water supply within the Mgeni System, which supplies most of Umgeni Water’s customers, including Msunduzi Municipality.

“In addition to the dam, a new pumping station and new pipeline will be built as accompanying infrastructure. The overall transfer capacity of the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme will then be increased to its ultimate rate of 4,5 cubic metres per second.

“Over the past few years water demand from the Mgeni system has continued to grow in response to buoyant economic activity and housing development, he said.

Construction of the dam began in 2011 and is scheduled to be completed in 2012, with the first water delivered in April 2013.

Asked why municipal residents were funding a national infrastructure project, Harichunder referred queries to DWA.

The Witness sent its queries to the department on Thursday afternoon and again on Friday, but no response has been forthcoming.

The department’s chief director for communication services, Mava Scott, said the query had gone to the infrastructure section, but he could not guarantee a response by the weekend.

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