City’s interventions to minimise drought impact

2016-11-02 06:02

COMMUNITIES are urged to continue to use water wisely to mitigate the effect of the drought.

Despite recent rains, the drought situation still remains a challenge in eThekwini Municipality.

However, a number of interventions have been implemented by the municipality to ensure that taps do not run dry.

A report tabled at full council on Thursday, 27 October outlined the various initiatives implemented by the City.

Head of Water and Sanitation, Ednick Msweli presented the report to the Executive Committee, which held a special meeting today, before the full council meeting.

The report stated that South Africa is in the grips of one of the worst droughts for many decades with 2015 being the driest year on record since 1921.

This has impacted on the local dam storage levels. Therefore, the Department of Water and Sanitation together with Umgeni Water have imposed restrictions on water supply ranging from 15% to 50% to preserve the available storage.

Currently Midmar Dam is at 48.06% capacity, Albert Falls at 24.5% and Inanda Dam is sitting at 63.41% capacity.

Msweli said the total storage in the uMgeni System at the beginning of August was 48% compared to the level of 72% at the same time last year.

He said Umgeni Water is continuing to reduce supply to the City in line with the Minister of Water and Sanitation’s directive to reduce demand by 15%.

Msweli said the Water and Sanitation Unit has relied on water tankers which are deployed daily in areas that are known to have water supply challenges for various reasons including areas not yet reached by the Western and Northern aqueducts, areas affected by the drought curtailments and areas where there is currently no reticulated water supply.

The report stated that while some weather reports say that above average rainfall is expected in the early parts of 2017, other reports suggest that the drought could continue for at least a further 12 months.

However, “if good” rain is received before the next dry season (winter 2017), it may not be sufficient to fill the water supply dams to high enough levels to see us through until the following rainy season (summer 2017/2018).

Msweli said further steps taken to improve turnaround times included the hiring of 103 extended public works programme employees, who have been deployed in some wards to expedite the reporting of faults including water pipe bursts and leaks as well as supply interruptions. This is intended to reduce wastage of water.

A WhatsApp reporting line has also been launched to help customers speedily report faults.

Contractors that used to do new connections are also being trained to be upgraded to category A in order to increase the number of plumbers available to carry out repairs. The filling of vacant, funded maintenance posts is also being expedited to increase internal maintenance capacity. These measures will help improve reporting and turnaround time.

Requirements for vehicles, plant and equipment are also being assessed to match the additional human resources that may be sourced.

The installation of restricters in individual homes is ongoing.

eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede welcomed the interventions but suggested that other alternatives to provide affected communities with water be explored. This includes jojo tanks and boreholes.

“Staff should be trained and utilised to carry out repairs. We welcome these interventions as the drought is very serious. However, where costs can be minimised, it must be,” she said.

eThekwini residents are urged to report illegal water connections and water leaks by calling 080 131 3013. Residents can also SMS 43554 or email

Residents may also make use of the recently launched WhatsApp Water Reporting number, 073 148 3477. Customers will at times be asked to take pictures of the leaks or bursts to allow correct coding of faults to be done at capturing stage.

- Supplied.

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