City to have ‘no water at all’

Pietermaritzburg - Water-shedding could be rolled out across Pietermaritzburg from as early as next week — and residents have only themselves to blame, say city officials.

Msunduzi water and sanitation ­manager Brenden Sivparsad said people were reluctant to save water and would now have to deal with no water at all for certain periods.

“People are not realising how big and important this is. We tried to tell people to save water and use a reduced amount of water, but now we are facing days with no water at all,” he said.

Sivparsad told The Witness yesterday that flow restricters recently installed at some Pietermaritzburg homes were not sufficiently helping the situation, and a complete shut down of the water supply was needed.

The city had already installed about 300 restricters at homes in Hayfields, Prestbury and Northdale where water was being used excessively. The city will, however continue to install the flow ­restricters.

Sivparsad said the municipality had been mandated to start implementing water-shedding according to a directive from the Department of Water Affairs.

He said water-shedding would be the only way for the city to survive the drought.

“Residents were reluctant when we announced that restricters would be ­installed at homes.

“Now, their reluctance and the fact that they did not adopt a change in their habits means we will face ­water-shedding,” added Sivparsad.

Acting Msunduzi municipal ­spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the operation of water-shedding was “quite a detailed and intense” process and needed to be properly planned.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said residents could face ­reductions of 25% in the near future ­instead of the current 15%, should ­people not change their habits.

“If current consumer habits do not change, high temperatures continue and the rains do not come, the reduction of 15% could become a reduction of 25% in the near future,” he said.

Harichunder added that it was ­extremely important for consumers in the Umgeni system to be aware that their assistance is “imperative” to achieving savings of 15%.

Previously he told The Witness that Umgeni Water’s calculations indicated that Midmar and Albert Falls dams would reach “dead storage” by the end of this year if water usage reductions were not applied with immediate effect.

“This means there will only be silt and no water in these dams. The effect of dead storage on the economy, ­commerce, business, agriculture and ­domestic users would be serious,” said Harichunder.

Scottsville Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association chairperson Peter Green said residents should have input into the times water-shedding would take place in their areas.

He added that as an engineer himself, he was aware that when the flow of water was disrupted, the quality of water was also disrupted.

“This is a huge concern. Also, ­emergency services should have a ­constant flow of water available to them,” said Green.

Madonda said city officials were ­currently finalising the water-shedding schedule and it would be communicated to residents once finalised.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of ­Business chief executive officer Melanie Veness said water-shedding was ­generally “bad” for business, and she would need to meet with the ­municipality to obtain further details of the planned restrictions.

She said any disruption in water ­supply could pose problems for factories in the city that need to use water on a 24-hour basis.

Ilembe Chamber of Commerce, ­Industry and Tourism executive director Kobus Olivier said the companies in their district had managed to adapt to instances where water-shedding was ­applied.

The chamber had worked closely with the Ilembe District Municipality to ­ensure that those companies that ­required water on a full-time basis were catered for, to prevent job losses in the region arising from companies either having to downscale operations or close because of water restrictions.

Olivier said the chamber had also facilitated a meeting of role players in agriculture, including small farmers, commercial farmers, land reform farmers and financial institutions, to prevent job losses in the sector from the drought.

He said the water restrictions ­appeared to be working well in the ­district, and Ballito, a prime holiday town, had not experienced significant water shortage problems over the last festive season, as it had in previous years.

Olivier said there had also been a mind-shift from residents and ­businesses in the area in the much greater acceptance of the use of treated water.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.z