‘We’ll run out of water soon’

2015-11-05 12:55
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Pietermaritzburg - Those who think they will not be ­affected by water rationing are in for a stark reality check.

On Wednesday, the uMgungundlovu ­District Municipality which supplies ­water to uMngeni (Howick), Umshwathi (Wartburg, Dalton and New Hanover), Richmond, Mkhambathini (Camperdown), Mpofana (Mooi River) and Impendle municipalities announced that washing cars and watering gardens should become a thing of the past as there was a strong possibility that water restrictions would soon be ­implemented.

In recent months, reports of areas ­receiving between one and four hours of water a day have seemed far from local residents’ minds. However, in a bid to conserve the diminishing water supply, discussions on water rations within the uMgungundlovu District Municipality have begun.

A statement released by the ­municipality said although Midmar Dam’s levels were now at 52%, a “fairly moderate amount” of the dam water was “silt and not usable”.

With extreme dry conditions getting worse every day and the hopes of a substantial rainy season dashed, efforts are afoot to save as much water as possible.

It was announced two weeks ago that Greytown was restricted to just four hours of water a day and Wednesday that iLembe, a North Coast district ­municipality, had enough water for about 120 days, just three months.

Umgungundlovu (uMDM) was ­advised by Umgeni Water that without sturdy and sustainable rains, the dam level would continue to drop ­dramatically. “This would leave over one million uMDM residents destitute, with approximately 60 to 90 days of water supply,” the municipality said in a ­statement.

Awareness campaign

On Wednesday, uMDM municipal spokesperson Mbali Ndlovu said the municipality had embarked on awareness ­campaigns to educate residents about the drought, but people appeared to be using water as if the province was not experiencing a drought at all.

“People were seen watering their gardens and when we asked if they knew about the drought, they said they had seen it on TV but didn’t think it affected them. Car washes were using hosepipes to wash cars and we asked them to use a bucket of water rather than a hose pipe but they told us they preferred to use a hose. I told them that they would be the first to be shut down if they continued in this manner.”

Ndlovu said people would have to start making a lifestyle change, or else water rationing would be implemented.

uMDM technical services manager Bheki Mbambo said in the statement the water rationing would aim to cut water usage by up to 50%.

“Water rationing will have an adverse effect on consumers who will be given a fixed amount of water supply per day, and once the water quota allocated to households is consumed, there will be no more water supply on that day until the following day when a new water ­quota will be replenished and available to the consumers,” said Mbambo.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said that although they were not currently considering water rations for the city, if high water usage continued, Pietermaritzburg would see water rationing being implemented.

“Residents need to realise that this ­affects everyone. Pietermaritzburg ­residents are urged to conserve water, and to not use hosepipes for washing cars and watering gardens. We all need to play a role towards this national ­problem we face, and we all have to act responsibly and not waste water.”

She said campaigns for drought awareness around the city had been done with announcements on the local radio station and the handing out of ­educational flyers. “The national ­minister Nomvula Mokoenyane, our own MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube and our Mayor Chris Ndlela are requesting all residents to save and reuse water where possible,” said Madonda.

uMDM mayor Yusuf Bhamjee said water conservation should become a lifestyle custom as saving water was ­everyone’s business. “A high percentage of water is wasted due to illegal ­connections, frail and old infrastructure, vandalism, water leaks,” he said.

“If the current water usage continues at the same rate, then water reserves will be depleted.”

Rainy season

Umgeni Water spokesperson ­Shami Harichunder said t­he ­prediction of the rainy season by experts did “not hold out the prospect of immediate good rainfalls”.

“If rains are not received in the coming weeks, the levels of dams will continue to reduce, thereby making for a difficult situation,” he said.

“Umgeni Water is concerned about both the absence of rainfall and falling levels of dams, including that of dams in uMgeni system.

“Please remember that if you reduce consumption today, the limited resource we have now will last longer. We also want to thank uMgungundlovu for all the water-conservation initiatives it has implemented and will be implementing.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  drought  |  water

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