Merthley almost empty

2015-11-03 10:23


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Pietermaritzburg - The entire town of Greytown is now relying on newly sunk boreholes for water, as Lake Merthley has been declared “unusable”.

Greytown was restricted to four hours of water a day two weeks ago, allegedly as a last resort after residents — according to the Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department (Cogta) — did not “adhere to the repeated warnings” that water was scarce.

The department had announced the four-hour restriction when the level of Lake Merthley dropped to 10%.

However, Cogta spokesperson Senzo Mzila said yesterday that Lake Merthley was currently sitting at below 10% and could not be used “at all”.

This comes after 2015 was declared the driest year in over a century in KZN.

The levels of major dams across the province are at critical lows, with Midmar at its lowest since South Africa’s last big drought in 1983.

Mzila said warnings and campaigns had been spread across Greytown since January this year, but residents had not heeded these. “In January, residents were requested to drop their water consumption to 15 KL per month per household.

“This was aimed at preventing the current situation. These warnings were not heeded and water usage remained high among residents.”

He said the lack of rain added more pressure to the dwindling water levels and several steps were taken to try and reduce water usage before restrictions were imposed.

All households within the town had washers installed to try and decrease the water pressure that entered the pipes, as a “response to the failure by residents to heed the call for consumption to be limited to 15 KL per family.”

Umvoti municipal manager Bogani Xulu said although water was the responsibility of the district municipality, Umzinyathi, Umvoti residents were notified that the water supply had been depleted.

“The district municipality has reduced the supply of water to 4 am until 8 am only. This affects the residents negatively, but cannot be avoided as we are in a natural disaster situation.

“The disaster management team is monitoring the situation closely and reports any complaints and illegal activities to the district municipality.

“Umvoti Municipality tries to assist by updating consumers with any queries as we get updated from the district municipality, and unfortunately this situation could not be avoided,” said Xulu.

Greytown resident and Arcadia Old Age Home manager Wessel Pretorius said yesterday that the water situation had remained the same for the last two weeks, although now the town was using water from boreholes.

“I don’t know what the reserves of the boreholes are like and how much water is left, but the situation is critical,” he said.

eNCA reported on Sunday that Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane had assured South Africans that there would not be any water shedding during the drought.

Water shedding was defined by Cogta spokesperson Mzila as when a “water authority takes a decision to cut water availability for certain time periods so as to ensure that dams and other water sources don’t run dry too quickly”.

“Water restrictions are imposed in cases where residents are called upon to voluntarily reduce water consumption,” he said.

Mokonyane was quoted by eNCA as saying that the country was not running short of water.

“We do have high levels of water in areas where there are not mostly needed ... We will never have a situation of water shedding. That will definitely not happen.”

Water and Sanitation Department spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase said yesterday that Mokonyane was only referring to Gauteng and not the country as a whole.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said yesterday that if the rains did not come by February or March 2016, the Umgeni water system would have to impose water restrictions. Comparative dam levels are as follows:

•Mearns Dam:

November 2015- 63%

November 2014- 86%

•Ixopo Dam:

November 2015- 23%

November 2014- 49%

•Midmar Dam

November 2015- 53%

November 2014- 69%

•Nagle Dam:

November 2015- 70%

November 2014- 84%

•Albert Falls Dam:

November 2015- 46%

November 2014- 78%

•Inanda Dam:

November 2015- 85,5%

November 2014- 87%

•Henley Dam:

November 2015- 100%

November 2014- 98%

•Hazelmere Dam:

November 2015- 27%

November 2014- 45%

•Nungwane Dam:

November 2015- 31%

November 2014- 26%

•Umzinto Dam:

November 2015- 18%

November 2014- 59%

•E.J. Smith Dam:

November 2015- 67%

November 2014- 28%

•Spring Grove Dam:

November 2015- 89%

November 2014- 75%

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  drought

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