Paying less for no water at all

2013-10-29 00:00

WARTBURG residents say the lowering of water tariffs by the uMgungundlovu District Municipality will make no difference to them, as they have been paying for water they are not receiving.

Last Friday — the day that the district municipality announced its tariff relief — taps in uMshwathi ran dry and remained so for the entire weekend.

The town experienced an interrupted supply last Christmas and residents spent this year’s Easter weekend without water. Since May, the high-lying areas of the town have been struggling with an intermittent supply. Some days, there is a trickle of water, on other days the taps remain dry. Residents say the supply sometimes comes on after midnight, only to shut down again after an hour. According to residents David and Daphne Livingstone, the problem seems to be related to water pressure. They said the situation was worsening as they were without water more often than they had a supply.

Businessman and former mayor Vernon Lucht said that if the situation persists, the Renken Centre home for mentally challenged young adults may be forced to close.

Lucht, who was a member of the Wartburg council for over 35 years, said the town council had handed over the running of the water system to Umgeni Water years ago. Later the management of the system passed to the uMgungundlovu District Municipality. He said given the growing demand for water, a system built to service a small town had to be expanded to include more users. He said the system was no longer coping and desperately needed upgrading.

However, the residents’ greatest disappointment is the lack of information and action around their plight. The Livingstones complained that “uMgungundlovu, uMshwathi or Umgeni Water seem unable to do anything to rectify this dire situation, which will surely become a health hazard”.

Tony Commons and other residents said they struggled to get information from any of the three entities about the situation.

However, Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder was adamant that residents had been warned of an intermittent supply while the ageing water infrastructure was upgraded. He said work was under way on the uMshwathi bulk water scheme, which would provide the area with a sustainable supply and improved reticulation system. The project is expected to be completed in 2016.

Harichunder said the disrupted supply over the weekend had resulted from a power failure, which rendered some pumps inoperable.

In June this year, the district municipality announced that R400 million had been set aside in its current capital budget for the construction of the infrastructure for the uMshwathi bulk water scheme.

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