KZN floods: Bulk water supply in Durban could return to normal this week, says Umgeni Water

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  • The chair of the Umgeni Water Board says plans are in place to return bulk water supply to relative normality this week.
  • She said that supply, which is estimated at just over the 500 megalitre mark, is likely to happen by, or after, Wednesday.
  • Many parts of Durban have experienced intermittent electricity and water shortages since the floods hit.

Umgeni Water says that bulk water supply to Durban and surrounding areas is nearly at its capacity prior to the devastating flooding.

The board's chair Gabsie Mathenjwa briefed the media at the Umgeni Water offices in Hillcrest on Monday, providing updates on water supply and damage to infrastructure in the city.

She said that while capacity had dropped to around 380 megalitres a day due to infrastructure damage following the 11 and 12 April flooding, they had commissioned contractors to restore the required 510 megalitre capacity.

READ | KZN floods: Father carries son's body 10km to join families desperate for help

The impact would, however, not be immediate on the average consumer, she said.

"When we commission, it takes a few days [before]  there is an impact on the system. Currently we are sitting on 460 megalitres, but as we commission a normal person won't see the difference today.

"The system trickles in over a few days, and then we must ensure we do not shock it. Then in a matter of three to five days, the people will feel the impact of additional megalitres."

She said that before the damage, they were providing around 520 megalitres of water.

There were hopes that as Umgeni Water increases their capacity, so would the City of Durban.

"We are hoping that as we increase megalitres, so does eThekwini. We compiled a long list of scientists on standby, any kind of help that eThekwini needs, we are willing to work on shifts to ensure they get on board.

"As we get to 510 megalitres, our focus will be on our stakeholders to make sure they are working well."

READ | KZN saw eight new rain records on 12 April, with Margate doubling a high set 25 years ago

Almost all parts of Durban have experienced water and electricity shortages since the flooding began. While the municipality has blamed the bulk of the damage on the unpredictable weather, critics, civic organisations, ordinary citizens, and opposition parties have lambasted the ANC-run city for failing to maintain infrastructure.

In an interview with News24 at the time of the floods, eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda conceded that ageing infrastructure could have been a contributing factor to the widespread damage.

He did not say what was done with monies meant for the upkeep of infrastructure and how funds were used in the most recent 2017 and 2019 floods.

On Monday, Mathenjwa and a team of Umgeni Water staff visited the KwaNgcolosi community in Wushwini at the very heart of the Inanda Dam.

Here, damage to the Nagle Aqueduct 1 and 2 system was evident. Giant pipes meant to feed hundreds of megalitres of water a day into the Durban Heights Water System lay strewn on the ground together with debris.

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