Durban – While the Western Cape precariously battles its drought woes, water restrictions in parts of KwaZulu-Natal quietly continue unabated.
Bulk water supplier Umgeni Water on Friday said a Joint Organising Committee (JOC) for the Mgeni System – one of the most vital water systems in the province – had resolved that a 15% water restriction would remain in place.
The Mgeni system comprises Mearns Weir, Spring Grove Dam, Midmar Dam, Albert Falls, Nagle and Inanda dams.
Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the JOC had decided that, while good rains in Midmar Dam’s catchments had improved the level of this dam significantly, the system in its totality was still short of a target of 70% before restrictions could be eased or removed.
Reducing water by 15%
"It was decided at the JOC meeting on Friday that water restrictions of 15% in about 80% of Durban, all of Pietermaritzburg and all of uMgungundlovu will remain in place."
He said this meant that the water utility would continue to reduce potable water production by 15% in municipalities like Msunduzi, uMgungundlovu and eThekwini.
Households, business, industry and government were also expected to reduce water usage by 15%.
"Inadequacy of water resources in Albert Falls, the largest dam in Umgeni Water’s operational area, continues to weigh heavily on the Mgeni system and influences the decision not to ease or lift the 15% water restrictions, now in its second year."
Harichunder said the level of Albert Falls was at 22% on Friday, the lowest it has been in 20 years.
"This dam supplies the water needs of about two million consumers in Durban and surrounds through its augmentation of Nagle Dam and subsequent treatment at Durban Heights Waterworks."
Inadequate water resources in Albert Falls
As a result of inadequate water resources in Albert Falls, water is being pumped from Inanda Dam to Durban Heights at significant cost he said.
"The accompanying effect of this is the sharp drop in the levels of Nagle and Inanda."
He said the JOC was "greatly concerned" about the levels at Albert Falls.
"[It is a] strategically important dam that has consistently remained at under 30% for at least two years. A complication is the high evaporation rate of surface water at Albert Falls, and current high temperatures are not assisting in preservation of water resources."
Harichunder said the worst case scenario was that Albert Falls Dam could reach dead storage in 10 to 12 months.
"The current situation still requires water conservation and an end to use of hosepipes. While the JOC expressed its appreciation for the role consumers are playing in preserving water resources – and preventing failure of Albert Falls – it appealed to them to continue providing assistance in achieving the target of 70% by May 2018."