THE time has come for drastic water saving measures to be implemented.
The city has reached a point where water is so scarce it has become necessary to cut water to homes on a rotational basis and place water restricters on each home’s water supply.
The manager of Msunduzi water and sanitation department, Brenden Sivparsad, announced yesterday that water shedding will start next week.
In addition, Umgeni Water will reduce the water they supply to Msunduzi by 20% to 30%, if not more, amid the crippling crisis the province is in.
“It is definitely not business as usual and to be very honest it is going to be very difficult to juggle the system with the restrictions in place,” he said.
Speaking at an emergency media briefing yesterday, Sivparsad said the water situation is dire throughout the province. He said the mayors of all the affected areas will be meeting tomorrow to discuss the situation and it is expected that national Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane will be coming to the province this week.
Residents can expect a water shedding schedule to be advertised before next week, but Sivparsad warned that the schedules will not operate the way electricity load shedding did.
“Water shedding is very different in the sense that one cannot just switch a button that will give you water again. Water has to travel through a system and that will not always go according to the times stipulated,” he said.
Sivparsad said reservoirs will be shut off during water shedding and the water pressure will stop.
“The water will then only travel by gravity so the lower areas will probably still receive water for a while before it stops,” he said.
He explained that if the schedule shows an area will have water shedding from 9 am to 3 pm, depending on the water in the system and where the house is situated, taps could run dry at 11 am and water may only return at 6 pm.
Water tankers would be sent out to areas that are most affected by water shedding, which Sivparsad said would probably be areas situated higher up the valleys.
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WATER restricters will be installed in every household within Msunduzi by the end of October.
Msunduzi water and sanitation manager Brenden Sivparsad announced yesterday that the municipality will be installing 1 500 restricters per week.
“A restriction washer will reduce the volume and the pressure of the water. It will not mean that you will only get a trickle of water,” he said.
He explained the restriction washers will allow a resident to fill up their bathtub in one hour instead of the usual 15 minutes.
“So far the restricters have been graciously received by the residents and we are hoping that everyone appreciates that we are doing this because of the crisis we are in,” he said.
More than 4 000 households in Msunduzi have already had the restricters installed.
“We are trying our hardest but our customers need to realise that their water saving techniques will have a huge impact on alleviating the problem,” Sivparsad said.
He also pleaded with residents not to remove the restricters once installed.
“It is for the greater good,” he said.
INTERNAL leaks continue to be the biggest problem facing the city with the Department of Public Works a “big culprit”, said Msunduzi water and sanitation manager Brenden Sivparsad.
He said the city approached the department after a survey was conducted and found that millions of litres of water is being wasted from internal leaks in schools and prisons.
Sivparsad said the Pietermaritzburg Prison alone loses 47 million litres of water per month through internal leaks.
“We have shut their valves by 50% and no one has complained which shows it is internal leaks as the prison is not feeling the effects of the water cut,” he said.
Sivparsad said the city approached the department and still no action was taken.
“They said they have the money but do not know how to repair the pipes. We offered our service providers, however, no one has got back to us yet,” he said.
He added that government schools also contributed a significant amount to water losses from internal leaks.
Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness said the fact that the department has not done anything to date is “absolutely outrageous”.
“So we are losing millions of litres of water due to the government’s irresponsibility and people on the ground have to suffer.
“Industries will have to cut production, which may result in people losing their jobs, and the government are wasting the most amount of water,” said Veness.
She said it was possible that if the internal leaks were fixed by the department, the amount of water saved could make up the for water cuts by Umgeni.
Sivparsad said the city made a calculated decision to assist those living in council houses.
“We went into some areas and checked the internal leaks ourselves and fixed them.
“We understand that people living in RDP houses may not have the resources or finances to fix their leaks,” he said.
This year, Msunduzi Municipality has fixed 1 669 internal leaks in Thembalihle, 1 473 in Madiba Park and 2 911 in Cinderella Park.
“We do not have enough tankers and have to make do with what we have. We are trying to make this as convenient as possible for our customers but we are in a crisis and everyone needs to understand,” he said.
He added that with water shedding would come an increase in burst pipes as air fills up the dry pipes and creates air pockets. He explained to residents that to get rid of the air pockets, municipal workers would have to bleed the system by opening fire hydrants. “People always complain that the municipality left the fire hydrant opened and is wasting water. But this needs to be done to fix the burst pipe. It is not clean water that is being wasted,” Sivparsad said.
In 2015 the city council approved R614,2 million over the next five years for the replacement and upgrading of pipelines in the city. However, Sivparsad said bursts will never stop as a reticulation system is a “live, dynamic beast that is ever-undergoing changes”.