KZN diverted Day Zero with planning
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.