Do your bit to prevent water shortage

SAVE water.

In the light of the dire water shortage in Cape Town with residents preparing for Day Zero, and the dam levels in the Mgeni system supplying the Durban area being low, residents are asked to make an effort to save water to prevent dead shortage.

“The problem area is the Mgeni system, the largest system in Umgeni Water’s operational area that supplies an estimated four million consumers in uMgungundlovu, Pietermaritzburg and about 80% of Durban,” said corporate stakeholder manager, Umgeni Water, Shami Harichunder.

The Mgeni system comprises Mearns Weir, Spring Grove Dam, Midmar Dam, Albert Falls Dam, Nagle Dam and Inanda Dam. Mearns and Spring Grove are small dams that empty out as quickly as they fill up.

ALSO READ: Umgeni Water sets the record straight about assisting Cape Town

The multi-stakeholder Mgeni system Joint Operations Committee (JOC), established to monitor and manage water in the Mgeni system, met on Thursday, 25 January and expressed concern about dwindling water resources in this system and that the expected 2018 first quarter rains have not yet materialised.

“Collectively the amount of water in the Mgeni system is 57%, based on the average of the five dams and the weir.

“This is well below the amount required in order to meet the full demand of consumers. At least 75%, the average of all the dams and the weir, is required to meet the full demand of consumers, meaning a situation in which there are no restrictions,” Harichunder said.

“This system has remained consistently at 57% and sometimes below as a result of less than average rainfall for an estimated four years. The average annual rainfall for Midmar and surrounds is 800mm; the amount rainfall received over the past four years averaged between 300mm and 400mm annually.

This means there is a significant rainfall deficit and hence the extremely low level of downstream Albert Falls Dam.

People ignore restrictions

Also of great concern to the JOC is that consumer behaviour has remained same and there has been little or no water savings in some districts.

An appeal is being reinforced again by the JOC that water shortages still prevail and it is incumbent on consumers to use water sparingly and reduce consumption by 15%.


To prevent possibility of extreme water shortages occurring and accompanying serious impact being experienced by households, commerce and industry, the following measures have been implemented:

· Mandatory water restrictions have been extended for another year. The water restrictions are being applied in all of uMgungundlovu, all of Pietermaritzburg and in about 80% of Durban

ALSO READ: Help collect water for Cape Town

· Agriculture has had to reduce water use by 50%· Water is being transferred from Spring Grove Dam into Midmar Dam to prevent Midmar falling to dangerously lowlevels

· Water is being pumped from Inanda Dam to Durban Heights Waterworks at significant cost


High temperatures

Of great concern to the JOC is the level of Albert Falls, the largest dam in Umgeni Water’s operational area.

The level of this dam continues to fall, also as a result of poor rainfall.

A further complication is high temperatures that are being experienced.

High temperatures cause evaporation of surface water.

It has been estimated that in the worst-case scenario, if there is no rainfall, if high temperatures continue and if no water is released from Midmar Dam, Albert Falls could reach dead storage in between 10 and 12 months.

Dead shortage means that all that remains in a dam is silt.

For the level of Albert Fall to improve significantly, there either has to be torrential rainfall for about four days, or water has to be released from Midmar Dam or Midmar Dam has to spill.

ALSO READ: VIDEO: Waterfall pipe bursts two days after grievance meeting

No water is being released from Midmar Dam because of risks associated with this dam reaching dangerously low levels.

Predictions of good rains in January have not yet materialised.

Albert Falls is a holding dam that supplies water to Nagle Dam which, in turn, supplies water to Durban Heights Waterworks.

Supply to Durban Heights WW is being augmented from Inanda Dam because Nagle Dam is unable to provide the full amount that it normally supplies.

Essentially, the following situation prevails: water restrictions remain in place, Umgeni Water has reduced potable water production by 15% and the municipalities of uMgungundlovu, Msunduzi and eThekwini have to produce water savings of 15% daily: meaning they have to reduce supply to consumers.

It is important for consumers to realise and accept that water shortages in uMgungundlovu, Pietermaritzburg and Durban still prevail and the need to reduce water consumption is imperative.

Co-operation of consumers is necessary to ensure that the amount of water currently available lasts until the next rains and when dams begin filling again.

This is the state of dams in Umgeni Water’s operational area as at Friday, 26th January 2018.



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Michelle Dennis

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