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Rapid urbanisation and densification a reason for water cuts in townships - eThekwini Municipality

Residents of Ntuzuma collect water from a water tanker after cuts in water supply were made. Picture: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Residents of Ntuzuma collect water from a water tanker after cuts in water supply were made. Picture: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Published Aug 4, 2023


Durban — EThekwini Municipality said rapid urbanisation and densification in most townships under the City are the root cause of water cuts in townships, in that demand for water now far exceeds the water supply available.

The City said this has resulted in forced water cuts, especially at night to ensure at least storage reservoirs have water to supply consumers in the day.

EThekwini Municipality’s head of communications, Lindiwe Khuzwayo, said supply constraints at Umgeni’s Durban Heights Water Treatment Works are among the reasons for the latest supply disruptions in communities north of Durban.

“These include closing off reservoir outlets at night and reopening them in the morning, which helps build the required capacity to supply communities. The municipality is implementing water infrastructure upgrades like large diameter pipes and bigger storage reservoirs; however all these upgrades are dependent on available water from the bulk supplier,” she said.

Khuzwayo said one of the bulk projects is the construction of the Upper uMkhomazi scheme which will increase bulk supply capacity to the city. She said the project is due for completion in 2032.

On Wednesday, some Durban North areas were left without water due to an electrical failure at the Virginia Reservoir.

Areas affected were Park Hill, Blackburn Road, uMhlanga Rocks Drive, parts of Glen Anil, Glen Hills, Virginia and Glenashley.

Ward 35 councillor Nicole Bollman said the levels at the water tower were dropping.

“The water tower allows for pressure sufficient to go out to areas that may be a little higher. This morning (on Thursday) we woke up to some parts of the area without water and on inquiring, were advised that one of the electricity phases had gone down.” Bollman said the matter has been escalated to Durban Electricity.

Khuzwayo said load shedding was playing a role in the water cuts in some areas, as it negatively impacts the water supply system in various ways.

“One of these is the inability to pump water from a storage reservoir to high-level reservoirs and areas like in the case of Ntuzuma, which solely rely on a big pump station to distribute water to all other storage reservoirs.

“Other challenges related to load shedding are an increase in number of burst pipes as a result of surges in the pipelines following power outages.”

In cases where communities complain about the water tankers not reaching them to assist in this crisis, Khuzwayo said the municipality does supply tankers during outages and is in the process of procuring more tankers to ensure better supply.

Meanwhile, eThekwini Municipality has urged residents of Pinetown, New Germany and its surrounds to be patient as technicians work to restore power to the affected areas.

The City said the issue began with a fault on a major cable.

“It’s one of two cables that receive power from the Umngeni Substation. While working on the first affected cable, the second one also failed. This created further delays,” said the municipality.

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