City to hold water crisis meeting

Head of Water and Sanitation Ednick Msweli, Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda and City Manager Musa Mbhele. Picture: Thuli Dlamini

Head of Water and Sanitation Ednick Msweli, Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda and City Manager Musa Mbhele. Picture: Thuli Dlamini

Published Jan 26, 2024


Durban — Officials from eThekwini Municipality are expected to visit communities in Phoenix and Verulam on Saturday to address the water supply crisis. The meeting is scheduled to be held at the Shastri Park Community Hall at 4pm.

Several WhatsApp groups in Phoenix had called for a shutdown in protest against the water problem. The community of Verulam took to the streets for three days, blocking roads and shutting down the area to traffic.

Phoenix Constituency head MPL Bradley Singh called for calm, saying he empathised with the community. Singh said the DA had applied relentless pressure to get answers to why the Phoenix Reservoir 1 was not filling to capacity. He said protests and closure were not the solution because people needed to get to work and schools needed to be open.

“Two hospitals in the area are begging for water. There are no water tankers coming to the area. The reservoirs need to be modernised and undergo digital upgrades. In 2024, we cannot have workers using a dipstick to measure the amount of water in the reservoir,” he said.

The northern areas of eThekwini including Lindelani, and the INK – Inanda, KwaMashu and Ntuzuma – as well as Verulam, oThongathi and Phoenix and southern areas of Chatsworth, Shallcross have been experiencing piped water challenges. eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda urged community members to join in an effort to find lasting solutions and protect infrastructure in communities from vandals and thieves.

Kaunda said eThekwini had a population of more than four million, the majority of whom were receiving water. However, rapid urbanisation saw people moving from rural areas to the city in search of work opportunities. This, coupled with ageing infrastructure and vandalism, put pressure on existing infrastructure.

Kaunda said the Inner West Region water supply was sitting at 95%, the Outer West Region 75%, the Central Region 100% and with the South Region the supply was 80% and areas still affected with no water supply include KwaMakhutha, Adams Mission, Athlone Park, the Mfume system and Folweni. North Region supply was at 80%.

“The water supply in these affected areas can be attributed to, among other things, the damage caused by the recent floods, ageing infrastructure and vandalism,” Kaunda said.

In the South, one of the short- to medium-term solutions eThekwini is implementing is to fix the 24km southern aqueduct. Kaunda said it was decommissioned because it had deteriorated to the point of having major leaks.

A project plan had been developed to implement this project within a period of 12 months. Kaunda said the municipality had set aside R1.2 billion to implement the project. Compounding water challenges in the south of Durban was the wash-away of the South Coast Augmentation Gravity Pipeline during recent storms.

Kaunda said the INK and Lindelani problem was due to a pump station that caught fire, leaving 50% operating capacity. The municipality planned to upgrade the pump station at a cost of R35 million.

As a result of the recent heavy rains, areas supplied by the Hazelmere Water Works experienced outages due to poor water quality in the system. A burst rising main from Hazelmere to the Grange Reservoir also interrupted water supply to Verulam. Kaunda said for the past three months, the City had experienced constrained water supply in areas such as Verulam, oThongathi and Phoenix because the northern aqueduct had not been performing optimally.

Various interventions were being implemented, including checking for leaks and blockages on the 32km long trunk main. Other interventions include replacement of all air valves in the trunk main and changeover of the bulk supply.

These interventions were expected to be completed in the second week of February. However, some areas may have their water supply restored earlier as interventions were progressing.

In oThongathi, the City has restored water through an alternate supply from the oThongathi Water Treatment Works to the Belvedere Reservoir to supply the oThongathi South Reservoir.

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