KZN water restrictions to stay while dams under 70%

Albert Falls Dam superintendent Dinesh Rungasami points out the normal water level at the dam on Tuesday.
Albert Falls Dam superintendent Dinesh Rungasami points out the normal water level at the dam on Tuesday.
Ian Carbutt

If water levels in the Mgeni system reach 70% by May, the 15% water restrictions imposed on the city could be lifted.

This was revealed during a media tour of Albert Falls Dam on Tuesday by Umgeni Water.

The total storage levels for the Mgeni system were 50% in 2017, and they have since increased to 63%. But, if the May target is not met, the restrictions will not be removed.

Water shortages remain an ongoing issue in the Mgeni system that supplies uMgungundlovu, Pietermaritzburg and a large part of Durban.

This is as a result of the protracted drought, which saw the implementation of a 15% water saving restriction.

Umgeni Water general manager of engineering and scientific services, Steve Gillham, said Midmar Dam is currently 95,5% full and Albert Falls Dam 22,6% full. This time last year, Midmar Dam stood at 59,9% and Albert Falls Dam was at 24,7%.

Angela Masefield of the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation said, “It is very difficult to achieve restrictions above 15% because you always get cases of people who are not affected and who always have water while the others have no water,” she said.

“The rainfall [for this season] is below the Umgeni Water estimated average and is currently sitting at 600 mm,” said Gillham.

Gillham said the South African Weather Services has indicated there was uncertainty on the possibilities of rain for the upcoming months of March, April and May in KwaZulu-Natal.

Municipalities have also not been saving enough water, so water levels are barely increasing.

Midmar Dam, which supplies Umgungundlovu, Msunduzi and eThekwini regions, occasionally relies on water pumped from Spring Grove Dam near Mooi River, and Albert Falls relies on water pumped from Inanda Dam.

Gillham also said that Midmar Dam and Albert Falls Dam would have dried up in May 2016 if Umgeni Water had not pumped water from these dams.

Umgeni regional manager of Izintaba, the inland region, Sunil Maharaj said, “Water restrictions are not like load shedding, where you can just switch it on and off.

“When water is switched off, people who live higher up lose water more quickly than those who live on lower ground.”

Gillham urged residents to save water.

Meanwhile in Cape Town, Day Zero has now been pushed back to June 4 from May 11. Day Zero is the day that taps will run dry for residents.

Also on Tuesday, national government declared the drought affecting the southern and western areas of South Africa a national disaster.

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