Ugu needs to provide answers

2018-02-22 06:01

THIS has been an alarmingly dry summer on the South Coast, but I have found no comment on the matter by our water supplier, Ugu, nor have I seen any comparison of this season’s rainfall with our averages for the wet season. This region’s normal rainfall is among the highest in our country.

When I moved here 20 years ago, the Port Shepstone area had never suffered from water restrictions due to drought. But because Ugu has had trouble supplying water in times of normal and slightly below-average rainfall, it is not alarmist to imagine the consequences of a major drought here under Ugu maladministration.

I believe we need some answers from Ugu on the percentage of water being lost through leaks in the system, why leaks and maintenance have been and continue to be neglected, and what measures are being taken to remedy what must be massive water loss.

When the current coalition Council took over from the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay, it was estimated that about 50% of available water was being lost to leaks in the system.

I would guess that a similar or worse figure would apply to the area under Ugu’s jurisdiction. What are Ugu’s answers to these questions?

RESIDENT

UGU RESPONDS

Thank you very much for the communication platform provided in your media. The writer raises critical issues that are not based on factual research.

The writer’s view shows that not much research went into his writing. The fact of the matter is that the rainfall trend has shown decline across the country and the world at large due to many factors including climate change, etc.

The region of Ugu has been no exception in terms of also receiving less than average rains for the past five years.

Twenty years or so ago, the water stock levels within Ugu supply systems were far lower than they are currently and so is the demand. Twenty years ago, the government had just rolled out the infrastructure extensions to even rural areas so as to comply with human right acts to provide clean drinking water to all.

The resource infrastructure utilised was the same resource infrastructure that was only allocated to urban areas prior to democracy.

As such, demand outstripping supply was inevitable, hence Ugu District Municipality has committed all its financial resources to upgrade and refurbish infrastructure systems in order to cater for increasing demand.

While this has been ongoing, a drought period really hit the coast, especially the northern and south western part of the Ugu region and Ugu has had to reallocate its resources to deal with this drought period.

During that period, Ugu District Municipality looked at groundwater potentials where many boreholes were refurbished and natural springs were protected, which provided much-needed relief, especially in areas of Harding.

Also, as one of the best water-loss management implementing districts, Ugu’s efforts to reduce water loss to minimum were intensified and thousands of litres were saved and ensured that certain supply systems continued to supply water consistently.

In 2007, Ugu was found to have been losing 49% of its water to leaks and underground breakages of infrastructure and it embarked on a water-loss management programme where experts were brought in to implement what proved to be progressive action as the water loss is now sitting at 26% and more and more efforts are put into the further reduction of non-revenue water (source information may be obtained from the Department of Water and Sanitation on the state of water conservation and demand management in KZN).

As much as the water-loss management has yielded good results, ageing infrastructure is one problematic phenomenon within the district.

Regarding this, a pipeline replacement programme is being reconfigured such that the implementation is fast and easy to carry out.

The programme will be rolled out in the coming financial years in order to reduce water supply interruptions which have been caused by this ageing infrastructure phenomenon.

Ugu District Municipality is one of the few that has implemented water conservation and demand management techniques, and it has been consistent throughout the past 10 years and results have been showing and have assisted during the time of drought.

TREVOR KHANYILE

ACTING SENIOR MANAGER COMMUNICATIONS

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