The Verulam Water Crisis Committee was due to meet the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Tuesday over the constant water outages that have seen frustrated residents take to the streets in protest this week.
Frustrated Verulam residents protested on Monday, blocking roads with burning trees and tyres and calling for an immediate restoration of water supply in their taps.
Phoenix and oThongathi residents have also been facing water outages due to several infrastructure challenges.
DA KZN provincial leader Francois Rodgers said the party had lodged an appeal with the SAHRC to urgently hold public hearings in the north of eThekwini Municipality and investigate the continuing water crisis.
The municipality on Tuesday said that heavy rains have caused widespread damage to its infrastructure, including water and sanitation infrastructure, which has resulted in water outages being experienced in some communities, mainly in the south and the north regions.
The City said teams were undertaking repairs in the affected areas.
“In response to persistent water outages affecting Verulam and Phoenix, interventions are being implemented to increase water flow to affected reservoirs.
“However, this is dependent on the available water supply. This is due to insufficient water resources to meet the current demands.”
In Verulam, necessary refurbishment of pumps at the Mountview and Grange reservoirs will be undertaken, the City said.
In oThongathi, the main bulk pumping pipeline was washed away across the Plein Street River. This line carries water from the oThongathi South Reservoir.
“In the interim, work is being done to restore an emergency pipeline to supply the oThongathi South Reservoir. This is while plans to repair the main pipeline that was washed away are in progress.”
The City said teams were also on the ground implementing repairs to the Metcalf Bulk Pipeline which was also damaged during the recent rains.
In addition, the recent rainfall has resulted in higher levels of turbidity (cloudiness) in raw water from Hazelmere Dam.
According to the City, the Phoenix 2 Reservoir Zone was struggling the most due to the increased number of static water tanks that residents have installed in their homes.
“The negative impact of having too many static tanks is that the available water supply is not shared equitably among residents. As water fills up in static tanks, some families experience intermittent or no water supply.”
Roshan Lil-Ruthan, spokesperson for the Verulam Water Crisis Committee, said water was restored at 3.30am on Tuesday morning in Verulam and that the majority of areas had tap water.
However, he said Tuesday marked 96 consecutive days that Trenance Park had been without water and residents were holding the councillor and the City to its promise that water would be restored, “otherwise they will be back on the streets protesting”.
Lil-Ruthan said he had a meeting scheduled with SAHRC commissioner Philile Ntuli to discuss the water outage issues.
eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents’ Association (Erra) chairperson Ish Prahladh, said it was conducting a water drive to acquire and supply 500-litre water tanks to affected residents, starting with pensioners. He appealed for help from businesses and residents.
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu said in a statement that the Water and Sanitation Department was aware of the water challenges in the areas of oThongathi, Phoenix and Verulam and was engaging with eThekwini Municipality to find solutions to address the situation.
“We urge the municipality to act with urgency and decisively, even if it means they must work day and night, to resolve the matter and ensure that services are fully restored to the communities affected,” said Mchunu.
He said the Department of Water and Sanitation together with uMngeni-uThukela Water were currently on stand-by to respond and assist on an urgent basis.