December 2015 rainfall less than half normal figures

Shannon Hopkins
January 11, 2016
10 Shares 461 Views

Umgeni Water is concerned at this stage about the below-average rainfall that has been received in the Mgeni system catchments.

In the Hazelmere Dam system, 50% water restrictions are still being applied in Verulam, Waterloo, Sea Tides, La Mercy, Ballito, Umhlali, Ndwedwe and Groutville as a result of the chronic water shortage in Hazelmere Dam.

The level of this dam is presently at 32,2%, and in order stabilise this level an average 8Ml/d of water is being transferred from uThongathi River into Hazelmere.

“In all of December 2015 to the present there has only been 130,9mm rainfall in the Hazelmere catchments. This is less than half of the amount that is usually received at this time of the year,” said Umgeni Water stakeholder manager Shami Harichunder.

Sembcorp Siza Water are also assisting in installing boreholes in Ballito, as well as running a successful wastewater treatment plant to augment supply.

The Mgeni system comprises Midmar Dam, Spring Grove Dam and Mearns Weir, as part of the Upper Mgeni. In the Lower Mgeni there is Albert Falls Dam, Nagle Dam and Inanda Dam. The Upper and Lower Mgeni supply water to most of eThekwini Metro, uMgungundlovu District Municipality, Msunduzi Local Municipality and north of Ugu District Municipality – meaning that most of Durban, all of Pietermaritzburg, all of uMgungundlovu and parts of Ugu receive water from the Mgeni system.

Water users are households, businesses, industries and agriculture, amounting in total to an estimated four million consumers.

Many other areas in the system are also experiencing shortages.

“South Africa has already passed the spring months and is now into summer, when good rainfall is generally received. However, the amount of rainfall received thus far is well below the average, in some instances about one-third of the amount that is generally received.
If good rainfall is not received in the coming months, if the current high temperatures continue (this causes evaporation of water) and if water demand and usage continue at the present rate, the level of dams in the Umgeni Water operational area – including Midmar – will continue to fall at a faster rate. It is estimated that the level of Midmar Dam is dropping at 3% per month and that of Albert Falls at 4% per month,” said Harichunder.

In a proactive move, Umgeni Water has launched a Joint Operations Committee for the Mgeni system, with eThekwini Metro and Msunduzi Local Municipality also serving on it. Ugu District Municipality and uMgungundlovu District Municipality will join this committee later. One of the key strategic objectives of this committee is to work out plans and measures to reduce water demand and consumption within the Mgeni system.

At this stage there is a proposal that water savings of 15% be achieved in the domestic and business environments and savings of 50% be achieved in the irrigation environment. This proposal will be discussed at the next meeting of the Joint Operations Committee, scheduled to take place on 20th January 2016 at Umgeni Water. If the proposals are accepted, the municipalities will develop implementation plans – meaning they will have to decide how these savings will be achieved. An earnest appeal is being made to all consumers to use water sparingly in order to assist in ensuring that water resources that are available last for as long as possible or until the next good rainfalls. Saving water now will be beneficial in the future.

Another area of concern to Umgeni Water is Ixopo, within the Harry Gwala District, where the level of the Ixopo Dam is at 12%. Water restrictions – amounting to 50% savings – are already in place in Ixopo, and Umgeni Water is working on plans to augment water resources in Ixopo Dam. This situation has also arisen as a result of insufficient rainfall.
The Mzinto system in the Middle South Coast remains reasonably healthy at this stage. The three dams in this system, Nungwane is currently at 30,74%; Umzinto at 61,88% and EJ Smith is at 66,08%. There are no concerns about water shortages in the near future, but consumers that receive water from the Mzinto system (Umzinto, Scottburgh, Pennington, Park Rynie and surrounding areas) are urged to use water sparingly.

The levels of the Mgeni system dams as at 11th January 2016:

Mearns = 71,66%
Spring Grove = 72,89%
Midmar = 47,56% (the lowest it has been in several years and this is despite water currently being transferred from Mearns)
Nagle = 85%
Albert Falls = 38,15%
Inanda = 80,72%

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