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#DurbanRains: Easing the drought but causing damage

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Durban - The torrential rainfalls recorded this past weekend have eased the pressure on the water system, but the province is not yet out of the woods as some of its biggest dams are still under pressure.

Umgeni water Corporate Stakeholder Manager Shami Harichunder said some of the dams were overflowing, but the province’s biggest dams, Midmar Dam and Albert Falls, saw very little rain which had almost no impact on the dam levels.

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Brollies out in the Durban CBD as rain falls in Durban this week. Picture: BONGANI MBATHA

Both dams fall under the Umgeni system, which is under pressure due to water restrictions. They supply water to all of Pietermaritzburg and Umgungundlovu and 80% of Durban excluding areas like Verulam, Waterloo, Sea Tides and Tongaat.

“Albert Falls, which is the biggest dam in our system will need good rains for at least three days to fill up, alternatively, the Midmar dam will have to overflow because the dams are interconnected.

“For the past four years we have received below average rainfall, the average is between 800 to 1 000mm of rainfall, we will need more than the average to make any difference,” said Harrichunder.

He said approximately 29mm of rainfall was received at Midmar Dam; 58.2mm at Albert Falls; 39mm at Spring Grove, and 33mm at Mearns.

Levels of dams in the Umgeni system as of yesterday were, Midmar 79.08%, Albert Falls 33.5%, Spring Grove 85.86%, Mearns 89.99 %, Nagle 73.4%, Inanda 65.3%.

He said, “Currently there are mandatory 15% water restrictions in areas that receive water from the Umgeni system, and these restrictions will remain until the situation improves.

“Water restrictions are always accompanied by a degree of hardship but they are necessary to make limited water resources last until the next good rains. In the case of Umgeni system, the restrictions were applied to prevent failure of Midmar and Albert Falls which could have happened in November 2018,” he said.

Harichunder said there was also good news as some of the smaller dams that supply the middle of the South Coast had filled up. “These are small dams, they fill up quicker than those in the Umgeni System.

“There are four dams that serve the Middle South Coast, which comprises Umzinto, Pennington, Scottburgh and surrounds. These dams are Umzinto, Nungwane, EJ Smith and Mhlabatshane. Since Monday, 15th May 2017, all of them are at levels in excess of 100% and overflowing,” he said.

Harichunder said in Ixopo, Home Dam is currently at 99.28%, an increase of 3% over the past six days and water restrictions of 40% have been lifted.

In the south of Durban an estimated 200mm of rain was recorded while in the north of the city, at Hazelmere Dam, approximately 100mm was received.

eThekwini municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said their emergency teams responded to several distress calls.

“There has been approximately 160mm of rainfall that has been recorded since Friday May 12,” she said.

She said several power outages from various parts of the Municipality have been reported, particularly around Dube Village in Inanda.

Reports of localised street flooding, due to blocked drains, have also been received.

“Due to high tides, the Country Club and EThekwini beaches will remain closed until further notice,” Mthethwa said.

Mthethwa said residents should continue using water sparingly. The continued rainfall also left a trail of destruction in some areas.

KZN Disaster Management Authorities, Nquthu Fire and Rescue Services and Babanago SAPS launched a search for a 48-year-old man, believed to be a teacher in a school in Nquthu, who went missing after strong currents pulled his vehicle into the Nanakazi river during heavy rains on Monday night.

Mdu Ncalane, spokesperson of the City of Umhlathuze said more than 200 people were evacuated from uMzingwenya, Dube Village and Port Dunford.

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