Water shedding is here

2016-04-27 06:00
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Those were the words of Brenden Sivparsad, manager of the Msunduzi water and sanitation department, at a briefing last week on the water crisis.

Sivparsad uttered the words that residents were dreading to hear - water shedding would be implemented this week because there is no more water and normal curtailing is no longer an option.

Water shedding schedules will be circulated to residents so they can prepare. He also said that Umgeni Water would be reducing water in the city by 20% to 30%, if not more.

“Water shedding is not like electricity where it’s the switch of a button at fixed times. Water, because it needs to filter through pumps that supply many houses, will take time to flow through and reach everyone. So if we switch the water back on at 12pm for example, some houses will get their water immediately while others will have to wait until the water is sufficiently flowing through their pipes, which could take up to two hours, depending on their geographical location from the reservoir,” he said.

He added the water shut-off will come directly from Umgeni Water and that, as a municipality, they need to work with them in order to cater for their residents and adhere to the requirements.

Sivparsad said when the water is shut off people living on higher ground will run out of water more quickly than people living on lower ground because of gravity.

“Water will always tends to run down to the lowest point to the higher ends detriment. So the people living on low lying properties will have water for longer and those higher up will suffer. This is the nature of gravity.”

He added that water tankers would be sent to areas most affected by water shedding, which would probably be areas higher up the valleys.

Another element adding to the water crisis is internal leaks. The municipality is active in addressing areas where there are leaks and tries to deal with them quickly. There are also various government-owned buildings that are some of the main contributors to the water waste with their internal leaks, which are not being addressed by the relevant government department, but which have been brought to their attention by the municipality.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO, Melanie Veness said this was “unacceptable” that businesses in the city are suffering water cuts when they are being water conscious.

“It’s just outrageous that consumers and businesses that pay their rates are suffering because people who are tasked with such jobs are irresponsible. All sorts of terrible things are happening and people can lose their jobs. It’s all well and good to have meetings, but we want to see action.

“Our businesses and consumers watch every expense, they fix their leaks and have trained employees who can do it, they installed jojo tanks and are going to the nth degree to play their part and we must face the restrictions because of the sheer lack of interest of some people - it’s just unacceptable,” said Veness.

Water restrictors will be installed in all households within the municipality which will help with water saving and conscientise residents about their water use. By the end of the year all houses in the city will be fitted with restrictors.

Sivparsad said the municipality has installed water restrictors in 4 000 households.

Restrictors will not stop the flow of water to a drip nor inhibit household appliances such as dishwashers, geysers or washing machines from working - they will only reduce the pressure of water flow.

“You’ll still get your water, but not at the pressure that you are used to. This is to assist with the volume of water used and mainly to make people aware about the amount of water they use,” said Sivparsad.

He explained that while normal water flow will take 15 minutes to fill a bathtub of 100 litres, with the reduced pressure, that same bathtub will take one hour to fill therefore consumers will still be able to get the volume, but it will take longer.

Sivparsad asked residents not to remove the restrictors once installed.

“We need to continuously be mindful of the crisis and do what we can to save water. We are only going to be able to manage the crisis if all consumers work together and act responsibly so look at yourselves and your household use and cut, reuse and save as much as possible,” he said.

Sivparsad said there will be various consultative processes taking place in order to minimise the effects of water shedding on consumers and to cut water supply at hours that is suitable for the majority of the residents, however, it is all based on testing different methods to check which ones works best for the city.

“We will continuously be looking at smarter ways to save the luxury that water has now become because that’s how precious a resource it is,” said Sivparsad.

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