Water dearth threat serious
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Durban - Ethekwini and parts of the North and South Coasts could run short of water in just two years if rainfall trends continued and nothing was done to augment supplies.
KwaZulu-Natal’s chief director of water and sanitation, Ashley Starkey, said this in a presentation at the launch of National Water Week on Wednesday.
The event was hosted by Umgeni Water, Mhlatuze Water and the eThekwini and iLembe municipalities and held at the Hazelmere Dam.
Starkey presented a “water balance” scenario for the uMngeni water system, which considered the impact of planned projects and demand trends.
The upper uMngeni system serves the Umgungundlovu District Municipality, Msunduzi Municipality and eThekwini Municipality’s Outer West area; and the lower system serves the coastal areas and hinterland of the eThekwini Municipality.
This sub-system also serves the northern coastal areas of Ugu District.
“Water has no substitute and the province is facing a drought, so the situation is urgent,” Starkey told the Daily News.
He said the uMngeni system provided about 350 million cubic metres of water a year, augmented by just less than 50 million cubic metres from the Spring Grove Dam.
With demand now at 400 million cubic metres, it means that there is just enough water.
By 2017 the areas fed by the system could face a short-term deficit.
However, by 2019 treated effluent water would come on tap, increasing supplies to 430 million cubic metres a year.
Desalination of sea water on the North Coast was expected to further augment supplies from 2023.
The Smithfield Dam augmentation scheme in 2029 will further strengthen water security in the province.
Starkey urged people to use water sparingly.
“Last year at this time, the Hazelmere Dam was sitting at 97 percent capacity, but is now at 46 percent.
“That is half of its capacity. Low rainfall will continue the trend,” he said.
Earlier this year, the dam was sitting at 34.6 percent and water was predicted to run out by August.
In April, an emergency pumping scheme from the uThongathi River was commissioned at a cost of more than R30 million.
Umgeni Water’s chief executive, Cyril Gamede, said the organisation had a short-term and a long-term view, extending to 2030.
“(We will) plan long-term water resources adequacy; establish a water demand management business unit to address high water loss, and proactively plan and build new bulk regional water schemes whilst continuously investing in operations and maintenance.”
Non-revenue water - lost through theft or leaks - also featured in the discussion.
“The national estimate is 36.8 percent.
“Rural municipalities have higher (usage) than metros and urban municipalities and the volume of water in South Africa was 1 580 million cubic metres per annum, which equated to 30 percent of total water supply.
“This is more than 3.5 times Umgeni Water’s annual supply and the estimated value of (this water) is R7.2 billion.”
How drought money will be spent:
Earlier this year the province was allocated more than R353.7million to ease the effects of the drought. On Wednesday KZN’s chief director of water and sanitation, Ashley Starkey, gave a breakdown on how the money would be spent:
96 water tankers: R123.5m
Operational costs for the water tankers (six months): R14.7m
Supply and installation of storage of water tanks (1 905): R19.7m
Protection of existing springs (119 projects): R11m
Refurbishment and upgrade of water supply infrastructure (50 projects): R83.1m
Water tankering reduction programme: R8m
Siting, drilling, testing, equipping boreholes and construction of bulk infrastructure, reticulation and stand taps (116 projects): R93.6m