Water: it’s no longer if, but when

2016-03-30 14:20
Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - It is no longer a question of if we will run out of water, but of when.

This is according to Msunduzi ­Municipality’s water manager Brenden Sivparsad, who yesterday warned that high usage over the Easter long weekend had left the city’s water supply at a ­“critically low” level.

Sivparsad said some of the city’s ­reservoirs ran dry on Easter Sunday and Monday after suburbs exhausted their supplies of water.

Areas in Vulindlela, Napierville, ­Prestbury and the upper CBD were left without water, although the ­municipality tried hard to balance the reservoirs, he said.

“The higher areas like Prestbury and Napierville were affected first. They are higher, therefore they receive water last as lower areas receive the supply first. In essence, the higher areas will be the first to feel the effects of less water or no water at all,” said ­Sivparsad.

He said Umgeni Water had cut the water supply to Msunduzi over the weekend after some areas exceeded their water quotas, which resulted in their taps running dry.

Smaller suburbs in Edendale, such as Caluza, were also affected over the long weekend, but this was due to a ­combination of burst pipes and the low supply of water.

Sivparsad said the city is currently not in a stable position as the reservoirs in areas such as Bisley, Napierville and Prestbury were still critically low.

In addition, one of the city’s major ­reservoirs, which feeds the northern ­areas, is currently at only four percent of capacity, which is critically low. This reservoir feeds Northdale, Eastwood, Woodlands and Copesville.

“Overall our demand and ­consumption peaked over the long weekend. We understand that this was also because it is the school holidays and was a long weekend when people were at home and residents would have ­visitors over; hence more water was ­being used,” said Sivparsad.

He said the city reached critical point fast and Umgeni Water, abiding by their directives, had cut production.

“They [Umgeni Water] told us that we need to use the water they give us in the best way we possibly can, and they cannot go back on their directives,” he said.

Sivparsad added that although the city finds itself in a dire situation, it had received many positive calls from residents with advice on how to save water.

“Residents have called us and given us advice. Some had some great ideas on how they save water in their own homes, which is good to hear. We encourage that kind of interaction,” he said, adding that more residents should call in with advice and ­water-saving tactics that could help the dire situation.

With schools still closed for the holidays, Sivparsad said the municipality was continuously ­pleading with residents and visitors to implement water-saving measures in their homes and businesses.

He said residents should bear in mind that winter was approaching, which meant less rain and dam levels would ­remain unchanged.

“We need to safeguard the water we have, especially with winter ­approaching. At this rate, our dams and water supply may not survive through winter,” he said.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

How are you saving water at home or at work? Send in your ideas and tips for other residents to newsed@witness.co.za .

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water

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