No change in water crisis despite rain

2015-11-18 06:00
An illustration of the money vs drought situation in the country. Photo: supplied

An illustration of the money vs drought situation in the country. Photo: supplied

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DESPITE the recent rain in the KwaDukuza and surrounding areas, the drought shows no sign of abating.
While many hoped the rain would bring some relief to the severe drought being experienced in the province, experts have said the rain has made little if any difference in the water situation.

The 27.8mm of rain experienced over the past few day has not had much of an impact on potable water production at Umvoti Water Treatment Plant - which supplies KwaDukuza and Blythedale.
According to the iLembe District Municipality the Umvoti River still has limited flows and the production is sitting at 4.5 million litres a day as opposed to 18 million litres per day.
The Umvoti catchment runs from Greytown and is longer and larger than the Hazelmere catchment which is in the Wartburg/Montebello areas and is not very large.
In a statement issued by the municipality, iLembe urged people to continue to save water by showering for five minutes or less, not washing vehicles, driveways, windows or buildings, to reuse and recycle water as much as they can, not to water their gardens during the day, to please be considerate when filling up at water tanker stations and not use larger containers, etc.

“We are also urging carwash owners to continue to adhere to the notices delivered to them and to make use of the Siza Water Recycled Water available at their Frasers Waterworks opposite Zimbali Estate in Ballito near the M4. Builders can also purchase recycled water.”

Umgeni Water Corporate Stakeholder manager Shami Harichunder said the present level of Hazelmere Dam is in the region of 25, 8% and has been at this level for four days despite the rain.

“Water restrictions amounting to 30% are in place in areas supplied by Hazelmere. Based on this restriction - and assuming the worst-case scenario of no rain - the storage in the dam will amount to about 120 days. However, as already stated, experts in weather forecasting (South African Weather Services) have predicted good rainfalls in the first two months of 2016.

“On Tuesday [yesterday] a decision will be made by Umgeni Water and its customers (eThekwini, iLembe and Sembcorp Siza Water) on whether to increase restrictions from the current 30% to 50%. If restrictions are increased, the amount of storage will last a longer period. Again, in the worst-case scenario - if there is no rainfall - the storage in Hazelmere Dam will last between 150 and 160 days, based on restrictions of 50%. This indicates that as restrictions are increased, the period of storage increases concomitantly,” said Harichunder.

At Hazelmere Dam over the past 60 hours (last week and the weekend) about 28mm rainfall was recorded.
Harichunder said this was not sufficient to make a difference to the level of the dam.
“This volume of rainfall gets absorbed into the ground - meaning there is no run-off water to make its way into the dam.”

Meanwhile, the Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme is still on track for completion in March/April 2016.
This scheme, under construction at a cost of R1.4 billion, will supply potable water as far south as Ballito through a 29-km pipeline.
The point of abstraction of raw water is the Tugela River in Mandeni.

Umgeni Water and its customers (iLembe, Sembcorp, eThekwini) have issued an appeal to holidaymakers who will be arriving in KwaZulu-Natal to please take cognisance of the fact a drought has affected many parts of the province and that water restrictions in various forms are in place.
An appeal is made to them as well to use water sparingly.

The KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) welcomed the scattered rain, but the department insists the prolonged drought remains severe and the public must continue to conserve water.

“We would need weeks and weeks of sustained rainfall to replenish our fast declining water reservoirs to return to water levels considered safe and sustainable. We therefore urge the public not to become complacent amid the recent rain showers and continue to conserve water to ensure that the current reserves last longer,” said KZN MEC for Cogta Nomusa Dube-Ncube.

All the drastic measures aimed at preventing taps from drying, such as water rationing, restrictions and including the prohibitions such as watering lawn, irrigation, etc remain in full force.

“Combatting the effects of drought is everybody’s business and we can only ensure sufficient levels in our water reservoirs if we change our consumer behaviour into the future.

“ KZN is facing droughts with increasing severity and frequency unless our call for co-ordinated water conservation is met with decisive action by all consumers,” said Dube-Ncube. “The recent rainfall may give the false impression that the worst of the current drought is over.

“The impact of the current drought has been so severe that all this rainfall is simply insufficient to relieve even the most urgent shortages of water in the most affected areas of the province.

“Our campaign to conserve water will therefore continue,” said Dube-Ncube.


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