Water crisis looms

2014-09-20 00:00

KZN dam levels have dropped sharply and water shortages loom as temperatures soar while the province continues to experience below-average rainfall.

Umgeni Water yesterday issued a dire warning that the South Coast was already experiencing a water crisis.

Durban and Pietermaritzburg are relatively safe for now, but if current trends continue, water shortages could become an issue by mid-2015.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the effects of drought were already being felt in the middle of the South Coast region — the Mzinto System.

He said dam levels had fallen drastically. The EJ Smith Dam was currently at 11%, Nungwane Dam at 32% and Umzinto Dam at 29%.

Harichunder said conservation measures were being introduced and they were looking at contingency measures.

He added that the Ixopo and North Coast (Hazelmere and Umvutshane River) systems were also already in stress. The Hazelmere Dam supplies parts of Durban and the Ilembe District.

The district faces the possibility of a drought as the Umvutshane River, which supplies the area, is almost dry. “This has resulted in a 66% reduction in the volume of water being treated.”

However, there were no immediate concerns about water shortages in the Mgeni System, which supplies the eThekwini region, uMgungundlovu, Northern Ugu district and Pietermaritzburg.

“Depending on the rainfall levels received during the coming months, this could become an issue in mid-2015,” Harichunder said.

He warned that there had been below-average rainfall over the past 15 months and that meteorologists had predicted the continuation of this trend until January next year. In addition, unusally high spring temperatures had led to increased evaporation from the dams.

Harichunder said an earnest appeal was being made to consumers to use water sparingly.

• nalini@witness.co.za

Some water conservation tips:

Some water conservation tips:

•Turn the tap off between washing your face, brushing your teeth or shaving.

•Take a five-minute shower, instead of a bath, which will consume one-third of the water.

•Use low-flow showerheads, dual-flush toilet mechanisms and water-efficient washing machines.

•Kettles should contain just enough water for your needs. This will reduce your electricity bill as well.

•Don’t over-fill containers like cooking pots, as this may result in the use of more energy for heating.

•Reduce the toilet-flush volume by putting a two-litre soft-drink bottle, filled with water and a little sand to add weight, into the cistern.

•Fix leaking toilets.

•Dispose of tissues and other waste in the trash, don’t flush.

•Use “grey water” — used water from baths, washing machines etc — to flush your toilet.

•Do not over-fill or excessively backwash your swimming pool.

•Use a bucket rather than a hose to wash your car. Or else use a nozzle that can be turned off between spraying the car.

•Do not pour paint and chemicals down the drain.

•Keep toxic insecticides away from water sources and streams.

[supplied by Umgeni Water]

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