Strict water rules for Pietermaritzburg

2016-01-27 14:07
Greytown resident Nombali Malunga collects her ration of water at one of the water tanks supplied by the municipality and placed at almost every road corner. Water can no longer be pumped from the town’s Lake Merthley as the level is too low and taps

Greytown resident Nombali Malunga collects her ration of water at one of the water tanks supplied by the municipality and placed at almost every road corner. Water can no longer be pumped from the town’s Lake Merthley as the level is too low and taps (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg -Pack away your hosepipes and prepare for noticeably less water pressure in your taps.

That was the message to residents from the Msunduzi Municipality on Tuesday when it announced that the city will implement a 15% water reduction in all areas in a month.

Msunduzi acting spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said they had already started installing timer controllers for all pressure-reducing valves, and that these would be operational — effectively cutting the city’s water pressure by 15% — in a month, when water restrictions would begin in earnest.

“We will be dropping the pressure during the day, but … consumers will still be receiving water at all times, merely at a decreased flow rate. Water pressure will be reduced still further at night, when water demand decreases substantially anyway,” she said.

Madonda assured residents that there would not be water shedding under any circumstances as that “has never proved to be a viable method of saving water”.

“People will always have water, just the volume of the water will decrease,” she said.

Madonda added that the price of water would rise in the new financial year commencing in July.

She urged consumers to start proactively reducing their water consumption so that they would not feel the pinch when tariffs were increased.

She said the city was waiting for the Government Gazette to be published, which would officially declare Pietermaritzburg a drought-affected area. Once this was done, the use of hosepipes and other water-wasting activities would be banned, and people found wasting water would be fined.

“Residents should be reminded that the situation is very serious and it is their duty to save water. If they see a neighbour wasting water, they should report this person to the call centre,” she said.

Madonda added that although the Government Gazette had not yet been published, residents should still take it upon themselves to introduce water-saving measures in and around their homes.

She added that the reduced water pressure would also result in a decreased likelihood of pipe bursts.

However, the city would prioritise repairs of pipe bursts, and all available plumbing staff would be allocated to this task at the expense of other duties, such as leaking or stolen water meters, “which will enjoy a lower priority for now”.

Madonda added that Umgeni Water had established a joint operations committee (JOC) comprised of representatives of all areas affected by the drought, including the farming community.

The city’s water services authority manager, Mike Greatwood, said that Umgeni Water would deal with all communications to the public, “so there are no conflicting strategies released to the public”.


OTHER parts of KZN are also stepping up and playing their part in saving water. Sphelele Cele, spokesperson of the Ugu District on the South Coast, said although the district had not implemented water restrictions, it had implemented strict water-saving measures.

“We have banned the use of hosepipes and residents will be fined if they are caught wasting water. No use of a sprinkler system, washing vehicles with hosepipes and filling swimming pools will be allowed, and people caught doing this will be fined,” he said.

Cele added that with a population of close to a million dependent on their provision of water and sanitation, the municipality is “continuously engaged in expanding and maintaining infrastructure” to ensure that all communities have adequate access to services.

In the eThekwini District, water restrictions have been imposed on all users of the Hazelmere water treatment system since late last year.

eThekwini spokesperson Gugu Mbonambi said their executive committee on Tuesday approved a report outlining the city’s emergency drought relief plan to get water to affected areas and reduce the amount of water lost due to leaks and burst pipes.

“The report outlined resources needed to assist in supplying water to drought-affected areas as well as improve the response time to complaints of water leaks and burst pipes,” she said.

These resources include two water sachet machines, 80 static tanks and stands, 20 additional water tanker drivers to service drought affected areas, 12 bakkies and other equipment.

Mbonambi said 47 static water tanks were urgently needed in the northern region.

The water sachet machines would be used to make four-litre containers of water to be delivered to households for drinking and cooking.

“This will ensure that consumers receive the bare minimum amount of potable water for domestic purposes. It is envisaged that the sachets will be delivered in bulk to strategic locations within the northern region, where consumers can pick them up on their way home,” Mbonambi added.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  drought  |  water

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