Durban faces water crisis despite recent rain

Khanyi Gama from the eThekwini Revenue Department.

DESPITE the recent rains experienced in Durban, the city is still faced with a water crisis. According to the eThekwini Water and Sanitation department, most of the dams that supply water to the city are inland, where there hasn't been enough rain recently.

The Mgeni system (Midmar Dam, Spring Grove Dam, Mearns Dams, Albert Falls Dam, Nagle Dam and Inanda Dam) which is the main supplier of water to the city has experienced below average rainfall over the past 30 months, resulting in some of these dams remaining consistently at below 30 per cent and 50 per cent. It is as a result of inadequate rainfall and concerns over the levels of Midmar and Albert Falls dams that mandatory water restrictions of 15 per cent have been implemented.

Addressing residents of wards 25, 27, 31 and 33, at a meeting held at Ridge Park College, Emmanuel Mkhize from eThekwini Water and Sanitation said, “The community at large still does not feel that we are in drought because they are still receiving water but we are here to tell you that we are in very precarious situation. As residents we should at least use 68 litres of water as opposed to the 'normal' 80 litres of water.”

Mkhize also conceded that although the water shuts are causing more harm to the infrastructure, the water restrictions and use of emergency schemes have been effective in slowing down the drop in the levels of some dams within Umgeni Water’s operational area. It was also revealed that the recent water shuts were aimed at targeting the underground leaks suffered by the municipal water pipes and not to save water. It is estimated that almost 30 per cent of water is lost as a result of the leaks.

“There will be areas that will be exempted from the water restrictions, this will depend on the reservoir that supplies that particular area because some these reservoirs supply other reservoirs which in turn supply others. This means if we were to shut it, the impact will be on a larger scale. People need to save water and we urge the community to report those who are found wasting water and any water leaks. We are working around the clock to ensure that our communities are not badly affected,” Mkhize said.

However most of the residents in attendance expressed their dissatisfaction and said the department should be doing more to address the issue, but Mkhize said his staff has not increased since the start of the 'drought'.

Officials from the eThekwini Revenue Department were also present at the meeting to help the residents regarding their municipal bills. Khanyi Gama from the revenue department encouraged residents to check their monthly municipal bills to avoid being billed extra.

“Try do your own readings and SMS your bill the same time every month. By law we are supposed to show you how the total amount of your bill was calculated,” said Gama.

The municipal SMS line is 083 7000 819 and their WhatsApp number is 073 148 3477

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