Dry taps could be the norm, warns Msunduzi as reservoirs run low

2016-04-29 13:14
A vehicle drives through a river of water from a burst pipe on Sweetwaters Road.

A vehicle drives through a river of water from a burst pipe on Sweetwaters Road. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - With four of Pietermaritzburg’s main reservoirs at or below seven percent, parts of the city went without water yesterday with the Msunduzi Municipality warning this could become the norm.

Symons Reservoir was at seven ­percent capacity yesterday morning, Bisley and Oribi Reservoir were below five percent and Eastwood Reservoir was at zero percent.

This resulted in buildings and schools closing their doors due to dry taps.

Pietermaritzburg’s city centre, ­including municipal buildings and the legislature were without water as well as Mountain Rise and parts of industrial ­areas.

Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School sent pupils home before noon after their water supply had run dry. Boarders at the school were also picked up early for the long weekend.

Girls’ High principal Valerie Fowler said after they found they had no water, they called the municipality, which said it could not guarantee when their water supply would resume.

“The school consulted with the ­governing body and because there are 1 200 pupils and staff at the school, ­sanitation is compromised and with no guarantees of when we will have water, the pupils were sent home.”

Msunduzi water and sanitation department manager Brenden Sivparsad said that numerous factors affected the water supply.

The recent drought, the approaching winter season, the city’s 15% water ­restrictions from Umgeni Water and the high demand over the public holiday, had seen one reservoir run dry and three others running very low. “The water the municipality is receiving has decreased due to the water restrictions and ­although the demand has slightly ­decreased, it is not in line with what we need to conserve,” said Sivparsad.

He said the reservoirs did not reach sustainable levels and therefore were ­unable to supply water to their ­designated areas.

“Hydraulically and technically, we tried to balance things out and boost the levels but when your supply is lower than demand, it becomes a difficult scenario.”

Sivparsad said the reservoirs were ­expected to stabilise overnight, with one of the reservoirs already increasing ­yesterday afternoon by two percent, however, he said it would be difficult to predict when water would be restored to the affected areas.

However, Sivparsad said that without the public’s help, yesterday’s water issue will re-occur.

“If consumers are unable to help ­conserve water, we will have no option. What happened today [yesterday] will be the norm.

“There is no way we can do this without the community and appeal to the public to continue saving water,” he said.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

UMGENI Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said ­yesterday that the present bulk water resource availability remains of “grave concern to Umgeni Water”.

“Information released by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) suggest that the below-average rainfall pattern will continue to be experienced until the end of September/October 2016,” said Harichunder.

The following areas were affected: Bisley, Clarendon, Cleland, Willowton, CBD, ­Montrose, Eastwood, ­Mountain Rise, Boughton, Hayfields, Mkhondeni, Chase Valley and Northdale.

— Witness Reporter.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water

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