Water usage to be restricted

2016-01-21 12:45
In line for precious drops of water
The late afternoon sun sets as residents of Khula village outside St Lucia gather around the pump in their daily ritual to collect water.

In line for precious drops of water The late afternoon sun sets as residents of Khula village outside St Lucia gather around the pump in their daily ritual to collect water. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Residents of several KwaZulu-Natal municipalities, including Msunduzi, should brace themselves for water ­restrictions.

That is the warning being issued to Pietermaritzburg residents, where ­restrictions would be imposed “as soon as possible”, after Umgeni Water held its Joint Operations Committee meeting yesterday.

A proposal for a 15% cut in ­business and household water usage across ­Pietermaritzburg was passed.

Msunduzi Municipality, ­uMgungundlovu, eThekwini, the Water and Sanitation Department, KZN ­Co-operative Governance and ­Traditional Affairs Department and officials of the organised agriculture sector were all in attendance.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said it was agreed by all those who attended that there would be a 15% reduction in water consumption within the uMgungundlovu, Msunduzi and eThekwini regions.

“Umgeni Water is concerned that the amount of rainfall received thus far is ­below average, resulting in some dams within the Mgeni system, such as ­Midmar and Albert Falls, being at their lowest levels in 30 years,” he said.

“The Council for Scientific and ­Industrial Research, in its latest forecast, predicted a continued trend of ­below-average rainfall for the Mgeni ­system in the next six months …”

Harichunder said that with the winter months being a period for poor rainfall, the low dam levels could not be ignored.

He said the municipalities had been instructed to develop plans to reduce ­water consumption by 15%.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said while the municipality had to come up with a plan, restrictions would be implemented “as soon as possible. We will communicate restrictions shortly and the drought measures have to be put in place as soon as they are ready,” she said. “This is a serious matter and the restrictions are not to be taken lightly,” said Madonda.

uMgungundlovu water services head Bheki Mbambo said he could not say when the restrictions would be ­implemented, but water cuts were ­“imminent”. “All the municipalities are required to produce a plan that must first be approved by council, but water ­restrictions are imminent,” he said.

“From there, we will discuss how the restrictions will be put in place and look at a way forward.”

The municipalities would meet again on February 8 with the plans developed, and representatives from the agriculture sector would discuss with their ­members how they intend achieving ­water-use savings.

These proposals would then be ­accepted or changes made.

“The committee is aware that in some instances water-use reductions are going to hurt, but the longer term scenario must be considered at the same time,” said Harichunder.

He said restrictions were essential to prevent a serious water shortage ­situation and its accompanying ­hardship in the future.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  drought  |  water

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