Council approves water-supply reduction

2016-03-16 06:00

THE reality of El Niño’s global effect and the worst drought South Africa has experienced since the eighties, formed the topic of a presentation by eThekwini’s Water and Sanitation head, Ednick Msweli at a special sitting of full council on Friday, 11 March.

The situation has become such that a national directive will be Gazetted in March where both a 15% reduction in supply and usage will become mandatory across South Africa – this in line with the council’s earlier decision where it applies in eThekwini.

“While 47 000 water restrictors have already been installed iin the northern areas that draw off the Hazelmere Dam, a level of only 34,74% was recorded on Friday, 11 March,” Cllr André Beetge said.

“In the period 9 February to 10 March, the level of the Spring Grove Dam dropped from 85,3% to 78,1 %, Mearns Weir dropped from 108,3 % to 51,6%, Midmar (despite levels being enhanced by pumping water from the Mooi River) dropped from 47,1% to 46,2%, Albert Falls down from 37,8% to 36,7%, Nagle Dam down from 83,1% to 74,7% and Inanda Dam down from 80,2% to 78,7%.”

The Umgeni system, which draws from these dams to supply various areas including eThekwini, has a failure to supply ration of one in 100 years – the reality being that the one year could well be the start of 2017, as without rain and drastic saving, the dams will be running dry come end 2016.

“While desalination is one of the options to accommodate future demand, it is a long and expensive process resulting in the cost of water rising to three times the current. In addition to which a R3.5 billion investment coupled with a five-year construction period will only render supply of 150 megalitres per day (Ml/d) – this while the city’s current demand falls just short of 700 Ml/d,” Beetge said.

However, and despite several awareness initiatives, the overall demand for water across the city increased in January (in comparison to the 12-month baseline demand).

“For example the Amanzimtoti Water Treatment Works (AWTW) recorded a demand of 65,02 Ml/d – 4,21 Ml/d up from the historic demand of 60,81 Ml/d, or 13,33 Ml/d above the expected 51,69 Ml/d (accepting the implementation of a 15% reduction against the 12 month baseline). While AWTW is able to supply in the demand by drawing off the Nungwane and Wiggins lines, it remains an unsustainable exercise.

“In addition to reducing pressure from either 500kpa or 300kpa (depending) to 150kpa in certain areas, the city is also in process of contracting an additional 100 plumbers to assist with the installation of water restrictors at a cost of R300 million – this in an effort to force reduction where the demand isn’t decreased in line with expectation,” said Beetge.

The usage and/or demand of the 12-month period prior council’s decision is calculated and averaged to determine the individual baseline for each household/meter, against which the 15% expected reduction is then calculated.

Beetge said should demand decrease in line with expectation, or weather patterns alter to the point where dams are again above 70%, council will not resort to water shedding. However, and should this become necessary, it only be applied with knowledge and authorisation from the executive committee and after residents have been duly informed.

Residents are requested not to fill and stockpile water as it creates additional demand,” said Beetge. - Supplied.

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