KZN water re­stric­tions to stay while dams un­der 70%


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 yes­ter­day 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 KwaZulu­Natal.

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


Al­bert Falls Dam su­per­in­ten­dent Di­nesh Run­gasami points out the nor­mal water level at the dam yes­ter­day. The dam is cur­rently at 22,6%.

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