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Plans to save water revealed by eThekwini deputy mayor Mavundla

Philani Mavundla, the deputy mayor of eThekwini. Pictures: Theo Jeptha/ African News Agency (ANA)

Philani Mavundla, the deputy mayor of eThekwini. Pictures: Theo Jeptha/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 4, 2022

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Durban — eThekwini Municipality is exploring the possibility of saving water used to flush toilets and a project to mix sea water with sewerage water to get drinking water.

This came to light when human settlements and infrastructure (HSI) committee chairperson Philani Mavundla unpacked his budget for 2022/2023.

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Mavundla said eThekwini had 54% non-revenue water which equated to a loss of R1.7 billion per annum. In terms of water conservation, Mavundla said methods were being sought to deal with sanitation.

One of them concerned a study being conducted by several international universities and the University of KwaZulu-Natal where one litre of water is used to flush a toilet and a system is used to treat and compact faeces and make it odourless. He said two units using this method had been installed in Durban for testing.

“We are concerned about water loss. Very soon we won’t have water in eThekwini because of scarcity. Water rationing is done because we do not want to see day zero in eThekwini. We need to brace ourselves for water rationing for the next twelve months,” he said.

Mavundla said two aqueducts from the Umgeni system were down and being repaired.

“Remix water is an interesting project; we mix sewer with seawater to get drinking water. It’s another project that we are exploring,” he said.

He added that they were not getting value for money from water tankers. With this in mind, the city is buying its own tankers in the next financial year.

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The HSI cluster consists of approximately 22 units including human settlements, engineering and the eThekwini transport authority. Among the priorities for 2022/2023 and 2024/2025 is storm disaster recovery and economic transformation.

The budget for the engineering unit is R600 130 000; eThekwini transport authority R715 716 000; human settlements R1 091 340 000; and the office of the deputy city manager, R607 000.

Mavundla said the Zibambele programme, which fell under the engineering department, would receive R136.7 million for 2022/2023. It is a poverty alleviation programme focusing on destitute women-headed households. The programme provides beneficiaries with two days of work per week, including maintenance of the road drainage system.

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“Over 7 000 people are employed,” he said.

The road rehabilitation programme will be allocated R145.5m. Informal settlements upgrading will receive R382 718 111. Community infrastructure programmes including ablution facilities, outdoor gyms, speed humps and footpaths are allocated R111m for 2022/2023. The budget for the water department is R521 816 600; sanitation unit R440 547 000; solid waste R295 374 076; and electricity R675 297 000.

Eight land parcels were handed over to the provincial department of human settlements. Town planners are busy with confirmation of bulk water and sanitation and electricity infrastructure and securing planning approval of draft layouts.

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Areas of focus included the implementation of a parking management solution for the city and building of a new transport management centre and completion of a process to attract investment into the city for the manufacturing of midi buses as part of the implementation of the Integrated Public Transport Network plan.

Electricity challenges include the phenomenal growth of informal settlements. The demand for electricity from this sector is growing. The focus points are renewable energy interventions that allow customers to sell electricity back to the city and the introduction of the municipal power purchasing programme. The city is struggling to cope with electricity and infrastructure theft despite numerous interventions in place.

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