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Heavy rains push Hazelmere Dam to risky high levels

According to Umgeni Water the heavy rains over the past 36 hours have pushed up the level of the dam in the north of Durban to approximately 70%, which poses a risk to the wall extension that is currently under construction.

Water being released from Hazelmere Dam’s sluices in KwaZulu-Natal. | Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 23, 2022

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Durban - Umgeni Water, which manages the Hazelmere Dam, has taken a decision to release water from the dam on an emergency basis in order to reduce the level to 53% from the 70% capacity mark it reached this weekend.

According to Umgeni Water the heavy rains over the past 36 hours have pushed up the level of the dam in the north of Durban to approximately 70%, which poses a risk to the wall extension that is under construction.

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“The releases will occur in a phased manner, meaning that every endeavour will be made to try to prevent the river bursting its banks. This will be occur through opening the first valve to release water, then allowing the river level to stabilise before opening the second valve later. The first release began on Sunday, and it is expected to take two-three days to reach 53%,” said Umgeni Water’s Shami Harichunder.

Harichunder has urged communities residing close to or on the banks of the Umdhloti River to remember that when water is released from Hazelmere Dam, the level of the river rises rapidly.

This, Harichunder says could pose a risk to the safety of any person who tries to cross the river. It could also pose a risk to structures erected on the river’s banks.

“The rapid rise in the dam level overnight on Saturday, May 21, was the result of heavy rains in the catchments of Hazelmere Dam. The release is necessary to maintain a safe operating level, set at 53% in the interim pending completion of the raising of the wall project. If the level of the dam is kept at 70%, water will go over the wall that is under construction and it could topple,” said Harichunder.

She says the wall project was commissioned by the Department of Water and Sanitation and, after protracted delays caused by construction-related complications, the contractor has returned to site.

“About 10% of the work remains unfinished and completion is scheduled for end of 2022.

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“When completed, the raised wall will more than double the storage capacity of the dam, thus reducing risk of water shortages occurring again. The most recent case of water inadequacy in Hazelmere Dam occurred during the drought of 2015-2017,” she added.

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