Daily water juggle

2016-06-01 06:00

PRESTBURY residents were fuming last week as they were once again without water.

In recent weeks the suburb has experienced multiple water outages as a consequence of the drought and the fact that Umgeni Water has cut its supply to the city by 15%.

Brenden Sivparsad from Msunduzi Municipality explained why the suburb sometimes seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to water supply.

Sivparsad said upper Prestbury and upper Napierville were fed directly­ out of the Balancing­ reservoir owned by Umgeni Water­, which is also a main in-feed for many large areas in PMB and supplies secondary reservoirs.

Sivparsad explained that due to gravity, when the level of the reservoir starts dropping - because of Umgeni Water supplying 15% less water in terms of the drought water restrictions - the highest area on the system goes without water first. This means that upper Prestbury and upper Napierville, the highest areas fed by the Balancing reservoir are the last to get water at times when the reservoir level has been depleted.

“Everything works on pressure, gravity and flow rates, bearing in mind that the main line from Umgeni Water also supplies Richmond, Thornville and Durban.”

He said the reservoir level needed to be at a minimum of around 15% for all of Prestbury to have water. Last week, the level dropped to below four percent.

“We’re trying to pick up the reservoir and we have asked Umgeni Water to increase the inflow into Balancing reservoir, while simultaneously closing off other areas to create storage, and ultimately level the system,” said Sivparsad.

He said if the water level in Balancing reservoir drops, “we close downstream reservoirs that are not critically low to pick up the Balancing reservoir level”.

“It’s a juggling act that is not automatic and requires staff to manually shut or open valves. It’s a very important leg [in the water reticulation system] and that’s why upper Prestbury and upper Napierville become such a volatile supply area because they are receiving water directly from a core reservoir which also feeds sub reservoirs.”

Sivparsad said the problem was not because people were using too much water.

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