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Drought continues despite rains

By Faeza
21 October 2016

The drought that has plagued many parts of the country will not abate any time soon, Umgeni Water said on Thursday.

"The drought has begun easing in some parts of Umgeni. However, it shows no immediate signs of abating. We have made progress in some areas where restrictions were lifted because of rainfall in July and August," Umgeni Water board chairperson Andile Mahlalutye said.

Mahlalutye was speaking at the presentation of the Umgeni Water annual report at the Hilton Hotel.

According to Mahlalutye, despite the Hazelmere Dam receiving water the Umgeni system in KwaZulu-Natal remained under strain.

He said weather experts have said weather conditions are not likely to change after 2016.

Mahlalutye added that four emergency schemes implemented were not in the water supplier's planned budget.

"The impact of the Umgeni water resources is being felt in Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The financial impact of four emergency schemes was not part of our immediate budget. The schemes helped us augment water supply."

He added that as an additional measure to fight the drought a drought water levy was introduced on September 1.

Consistent rain

Umgeni Water engineer Steve Gillham said despite good rains there was still no water in coastal catchment areas.

"People are seeing rain thinking that they can use water as normal. The rains have however not reached our catchment areas."

He added that in order for the amount of water to increase in dams rains needed to be more consistent.

"If you have a large water system like we do, you need rains over a long period of time."

Umgeni Water chief executive Cyril Gamede said despite many challenges the bulk water supplier had had no disruptions in supply beyond 24 hours.

He added that Umgeni Water had positively engaged stakeholders in various communities.

"It is important to take our plans to them in advance before we reach crisis levels. We align ourselves with the agenda of government.

"During this drought we had to improve collaboration with stakeholders and established joint committees to take decisions jointly with communities."

Source: News24