Umgeni upbeat despite low water level at dams

2015-01-07 00:00

AS summer temperatures flare water levels across the province’s dams have slowly been declining — but Pietermaritzburg residents may have little to worry about.

Umgeni Water this week moved to allay fears of a district-wide water shortage or restrictions.

High temperatures and little rain prompted a sharp decline in the water levels across the province with Hazelmere Dam at an all-time low.

Durban’s northern suburbs have been crippled by constant water restrictions because of the dwindling water level at Hazelmere.

The captured water is reducing by one percent every week and the dam is currently only 37,5% full. When a dam’s water level reaches 15%, it’s considered as “dead storage” meaning the water is no longer usable or becomes too expensive to treat.

Corporate stakeholder manager of Umgeni Water Shami Harichunder said the situation at Hazelmere is a cause for concern.

“There has been no significant rainfall in the Hazelmere system to reverse this trend. Weather experts predict good rainfalls only towards the end of February or March 2015,” Harichunder said.

A Verulam resident who asked not to be named and who is currently affected by the water restrictions, said that life without water is much worse than life without electricity. According to him, the water only comes on for a few hours during the day and sometimes at night with low pressure in between.

“It’s difficult to do everyday things like have a bath, make a cup of tea or wash your clothes. It really is unbearable sometimes especially when there is a big family in need of water to survive daily,” he said.

Harichunder said there are a number projects that Umgeni Water are exploring to deal with the shortage and that they are confident it will not drop below 15%. He also said that there are no immediate concerns over the Mgeni system that, amongst other regions, also supplies Pietermaritzburg.

The Mgeni system comprises Mearns Weir, Spring Grove Dam, Midmar Dam, Albert Falls Dam, Nagle Dam and Inanda Dam.

Barring Spring Grove, the other five dams have seen decreases since December 2013, when the dams were almost at full capacity. All six dams are however in good capacity.

“A dam should ideally be over 60% full,” Harichunder said.

“The Mgeni system has sufficient water to supply all needs, however, rains are always welcomed.”


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