KZN di­verted Day Zero with plan­ning

The New Age (Free State) - - NEWS - SIHLE MAVUSO sIH­lEm@tHE­nEwAGE.Co.zA

KWAZULU-NATAL’S Day Zero which was sup­posed to be in mid-2016 was averted thanks to for­ward plan­ning by au­thor­i­ties at wa­ter boards and mu­nic­i­pal level, Um­geni Wa­ter, the largest sup­plier of bulk wa­ter in ma­jor cities like Dur­ban, Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and Port Shep­stone, said.

At a brief­ing on the state of wa­ter in their sys­tem and drought in gen­eral, the en­tity’s act­ing ex­ec­u­tive chief of­fi­cer Thami Hlongwa said the mo­ment they re­alised that there was a drought, they im­posed wa­ter re­stric­tions which saved the prov­ince.

“Be­cause of for­ward think­ing, we averted Day Zero which was sup­posed to be around May 2016,” Hlongwa said.

He said while the on­go­ing wa­ter re­stric­tions had been in place for more than two years, con­sumers did not re­ally feel the pinch be­cause the wa­ter sup­ply was de­creased at night when the de­mand was low.

The en­tity’s gen­eral man­ager for en­gi­neer­ing and sci­en­tific ser­vices, Steve Gill­ham, said of the six dams it man­aged in KZN, two of them were giv­ing the headaches and those dams, Al­bert Falls and Inanda were sup­ply­ing Dur­ban with wa­ter, the largest city in the prov­ince with more than 3.5 mil­lion con­sumers.

Al­bert Falls is sit­ting at a pre­car­i­ous 23% while Inanda dam stands at 63%.

He said it would take more than two sea­sons of rain­falls to get the dams above 70% and to con­sider lift­ing the wa­ter cuts of 15%.

“At the mo­ment we are un­cer­tain about the rains we need to keep our dams with av­er­age lev­els,” he said.

He said Um­geni Wa­ter had to pump wa­ter from Mooi River which was not sus­tain­able as the en­tity ended up with a huge elec­tric­ity bill from Eskom and was pe­nalised as a delin­quent user of elec­tric­ity.

Mean­while, Hlongwa de­nied al­le­ga­tions that Un­geni Wa­ter was fac­ing op­po­si­tion to plans to build a de­sali­na­tion plant in Cape Town which plans were im­posed by the Min­is­ter of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion.

Hlongwa said they went to the city to help.

“If we were im­posed, we would be there work­ing right now as we would not need their per­mis­sion to be there,” he said.

Premier Wil­lies Mchunu, ex­pressed con­cerns about the drought sit­u­a­tion in the prov­ince, say­ing it was pos­ing eco­nomic hard­ships. Speak­ing dur­ing the three day provin­cial cabi­net lek­gotla, Mchunu said the drought had hit sev­eral sec­tors like agri­cul­ture and in­dus­try.

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