Water rationing now in place

2016-07-20 06:00
The Umvoti River after the weekends rain. Photo: supplied

The Umvoti River after the weekends rain. Photo: supplied

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ALMOST 10 months since the ongoing drought in the province loosened its grip on KwaDukuza, water shortages, restrictions and complete shuts have once again reared its head.

In October last year, KwaDukuza faced a full month without running water in most areas.

Now, communities in KwaDukuza have - since last week - begun experiencing the tightening grip of the drought, this time with little to no sign of resolve.

The people of Glenhills, Lot 14, Lot 16, Townview and surrounds - which are the high-lying areas of the town - have been the hardest hit, going on more than seven days without running water.

Other areas including Stanger Manor, Stanger Heights, Lindelani, Shakaville, Warrenton, Highridge and New Guelderland – which are also said to be in high-lying areas - were left without water since Saturday, however, on Monday evening supply returned to most of these areas.

The community has been up in arms over the “apparent lack of communication on the part of the municipality” taking to social media to air their complaints.

According to many of the residents who aired their views, they believe that the iLembe District Municipality has lacked foresight in planning contingency measures for the drought.

To further exacerbate the situation, according to residents, iLembe failed to communicate adequately with the community as to when and for how long water supply would be shut off and what, if any, relief measures were put in place for those affected.

On Tuesday morning iLembe District leaders engaged in a press briefing in an attempt to dispel the notion held by residents that iLembe is doing nothing to address the plight faced by the people of the district as a result of the drought.

Addressing the media, iLembe mayor Welcome Mdabe said the drought is now no longer just a disaster but at crisis level.

“The Umvoti Waterworks – which supplies the northern areas of KwaDukuza from the CBD to New Guelderland - is currently producing eight million litres a day – via the depleting Umvoti River. There is no other source of water to augment supply to the Umvoti.

“Before the drought, Umvoti Waterworks produced 18 million litres per day. We have been constantly monitoring since the drought began and we have seen it go from 18 to 15 to 12 to and now 8 million litres today,” said the mayor.

Mdabe explained that as a result of the topography of the region, high-lying areas are the worst affected by the shortage of water.

“It takes longer to fill our reservoirs because of this. If the reservoir is at 35% high-lying areas such as Carnation and Rose Roads, for example, will not get water. Other areas in lower settings will feel the pinch maybe at only 7%,” he said.

When asked why the CBD receives water while other areas are shut off, he explained that water is pumped to the Saunders Street reservoir, which is KwaDukuza’s main reservoir.

“Water goes to Saunders Street which supplies town first then once it reached a certain level it begins supplying the other reservoirs as we have no direct line from the Umvoti pumps to the other reservoirs. This is the reason the CBD always has water. It is not a matter of selective distribution but of system design. We cannot change this.”

Those areas will then have to be supplied water through water tankers which most times have to travel to Mandeni Local Municipality for the water. In addition, co-ordination of the tankers, 37 in total, throughout the district which includes Mandeni, Ndwedwe and Maphumulo in addition to KwaDukuza, is an ongoing challenge which, Mdabe says, they are working on getting right.

“This has proved to be very expensive and as such our finances are drying up. Under normal circumstances we will bill for R15 million for both prepaid and conventional metres and collect about R12 million. Since the drought started, two years ago, we bill for R6 million and only collect about R3,5 to R4 million. This drought has a direct impact on our financial stability as a municipality,” said Mdabe.

Regardless of these challenges, Mdabe said that iLembe was still able to meet its obligations with the help of the residents and business community.

“Fortunately we haven’t used conditional grants in mitigating the impacts of the drought. This is an extraordinary situation indeed as it has a direct impact on our revenue and service delivery.”

Addressing the sand mining issues, which were a direct cause of last year’s month long dry spell, Mdabe spoke about the blitz done in November 2014 with the intention of flushing out illegal sand mining at the Umvoti River by the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in partnership with the iLembe District Municipality and KwaDukuza SAPS.

“In 2015, iLembe also had its own blitz which resulted in the municipality hiring an excavator to close the little dams that had been left behind by illegal sand winning.

“Twenty-one cases have been opened as of end of March 2016. We recently checked with the justice system to find out what is happening in terms of resolving this and the response we received is that the matter is still with the National Prosecuting Authority,” he said.

Addressing the problem of burst pipes and water leaks, Mdabe expressed his gratitude to the residents and ratepayers for the positive response to appeals for water conservation.

“The leaks and burst pipes are a result of vandalism, our aging infrastructure and also as a result of the drought because of the constant opening and closing of supply to save water. We are currently installing pressure valves to address this challenge,” he said.

Mdabe said another sore point for residents, which is now being addressed is upgrading it 24-hour call centre system to enable it to log complaints and to inform callers of the current situation while they wait for a consultant as opposed to just ringing continuously as it does now.

“At the moment the call centre is made up of two telephones and often operators are on calls and are unable to take another, in this instance the line just keeps ringing making it seem like the call is being ignored. Hence the need for a proper system to tell callers that they will have to hold for an operator.”

When asked about the option of desalination as a means to augment water supply Mdabe said the preliminary work, that is, the feasibility studies including land acquisitions etc. was 90% complete.

“The only challenge now is funding as this type of project does not come cheap. At the moment we are engaging with the national Minister of Water and Sanitation to look at our business plan to construct this 60 Megalitres plant that will supply the whole coastland. Of course if we get this we face challenges such as the main power behind a desalination plant being electricity and these costs. Due to these issues we might be looking at a cost of R16 or maybe even more per kilolitre,” he said.

Responding to the question about the construction of a weir on the Umvoti River to hold water, Mdabe said they are currently busy with the environmental impact assessment for the project and feedback will be given shortly.

To report leaks and burst pipes or any water and sanitation related issues, contact the 24 hour call centre on 032 437 9379. Like the iLembe District Municipality and Stanger Weekly Facebook page for updates.

Water rationing

Although southern parts of KwaDukuza have been on a water rationing schedule since the drought started, water
rationing will now be
implemented across iLembe. Water will now be
available daily between 4am to 10am and again from 4pm to 10pm in the evening.

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