KZN's water woes may be over after over 2 years of restrictions

Albert Falls Dam superintendent Dinesh Rungasami points out the normal water level at the dam. (File: Ian Carbutt )
Albert Falls Dam superintendent Dinesh Rungasami points out the normal water level at the dam. (File: Ian Carbutt )

Durban – Restrictions in one of KwaZulu-Natal's biggest water systems are on the brink of being lifted as good rains over the past two weeks replenish the province's dams.

The vital Mgeni system had "significantly improved", said Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder on Thursday.

"Total water resources in this system presently amounts to 69%. It has to get to 70% before an application is made to the Department of Water and Sanitation for the 15% mandatory water restrictions in the Mgeni system to be lifted."

READ: KZN water restrictions to stay while dams under 70%

Water restrictions of 15% have been in force for approximately 30 months because of a rainfall deficit caused by prolonged drought.

This system supplies an estimated four million consumers in Msunduzi, uMgungundlovu and eThekwini regions.

Because of good rains in the Midmar Dam catchments over the past two weeks, the dam on Thursday was at just over 100% full, slightly overflowing.

'A small but steady improvement'

Harichunder said releasing the overflow from Midmar pushed up the level of Albert Fall Dam to 32%, thanks to the downstream link between the dams.

"[This is] heralding a small but steady improvement in the level of this dam."

The joint operations committee for the Mgeni system, comprising Umgeni Water, the Department of Water and Sanitation, Msunduzi Local Municipality, uMgungundlovu District Municipality, eThekwini metro and the KwaZulu-Natal department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, met on Thursday and said the removal of restrictions was imminent, Harichunder said.

"A model used by Umgeni Water and the Department of Water and Sanitation to determine current water resource availability in the Mgeni system and future demands will be run again in May. It is expected that restrictions will end after the May joint operations committee meeting," he said.

Harichunder said the strong improvements in water saving and good rains from January contributed to the positive outlook.

By Thursday other dam levels in the Mgeni system were: Nagle – 58%; Inanda – 64%. Mearns and Spring Grove in the upper Mgeni system are also overflowing at 108% and 101%, respectively.

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