Taps run dry
The water situation in Ballito has reached boiling point.
Residents are in an uproar about the lack of communication from authorities about unscheduled water cut offs as well as heavy fines for supposed high water use.
Some areas, reported to include Simbithi and Zimbali, did not have water for more than an hour a day over the weekend.
Dolphin Coast Conservancy’s Di Jones said the Avondale reservoir which supplies these and other areas, was shut off over the weekend as water use was too high, which accounts for some areas having been short of water . She informed the public via social media on Saturday.
Sembcorp Siza Water’s Shyam Misra said many of the areas in Zimbali and Simbithi, especially the high lying areas need the reservoir level to be high to create adequate pressure for them to receive water.
“We will be receiving reduced water from our Bulk Water Service Provider (Umgeni Water) and restrictions were imposed to reduce water consumption by 50%. As there has not been a reduction in consumption and coupled with a reduction in supply the system is now running dry. An additional point is that we were under supplied by Umgeni Water and they have commenced supplying the shortfall and we will receive this over the next two or three days,” said Misra.
“The Avondale Reservoir is the main reservoir feeder to the entire water network and supplies all of the other secondary reservoirs as well as consumers directly. The reservoir has a total storage capacity of 15million litres. This reservoir has been running extremely low and hence many of the high level areas do not get water as there is insufficient water pressure to reach them if the reservoir level is too low.
The reservoir is shut to actually try and build capacity in it to allow us to create the storage and thereafter supply consumers,” he added.
He said residents must thus continue to expect unscheduled cut offs.
Zimbali Estate Management Association’s Ricky Naicker said the “situation in Zimbali is no different to any portion of Ballito or any other supply area of the jurisdiction of Sembcorp Siza Water”. Simbithi had not commented by story deadline.
Residents say that even when there is water, it comes out in a trickle, not at all or is brown.
Many residents are also outraged at having received fines despite their being vigilant about water conservation, they say.
“Fines have been reported all over and just randomly. The fines not justified and some going to pocket thus money. Everyone has been advised not to pay the fines. Just the consumption. Rather go and buy water for the fine money. We have to take charge and stick together. Hazelmere Dam is the only dam in KZN to be so low. Somewhere something went wrong and they (authorities) won’t admit it,” says Brenda Els.
Another resident said her pensioner parents who’s actual water consumption was R117 for the month received a fine of over R2600.
“How much less than that do they expect people to use – they’d already been using less water because of the monthly cost,” she said.
“The fines have been automatically issued in the June consumption of a consumer and is as we have previously advertised same. If a consumers consumption did not reduce by 30% when compared to their July to September 2014 billing they would receive the fine. Many consumers did not receive fines as they have managed to save water and adhere to the restrictions and we thank them for being responsible. We are inundated with queries and hence please also expect delays when we with regard to your queries,” explained Misra.
Despite the water shortage issue having become apparent to authorities over a year ago, there is still no fool-proof plan that can be implemented quickly to ameliorate the situation.
Umgeni Water’s Shami Harichunder said the short-term/emergency scheme that was implemented was the uTongathi River/Hazelmere Dam water transfer pipeline. While Umgeni maintains this is working, reports from the area indicate that the water does not reach the dam, with the pipeline falling about 1.5km short of it.
“A longer term project to augment supply is the Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme, currently under construction. This scheme will be able to supply water to Ballito. It is expected to be completed by mid-2016 and the total cost of the project is R1, 2 billion – one of the largest schemes to be implemented by Umgeni Water,” said Hurichunder.
Reports indicate the pipeline is in place, yet the weir of the dam catchment is still under construction.
“We are also currently drilling boreholes,and have commenced procuring all the respective items to increase the recycling plant capacity to enable us to introduce this into the water network as well as looking at onsite treatment at various sites to get alternate supply for consumers,” said Siza’s Shyam Misra.
Dolphin Coast Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (DOCRRA) will be holding a meeting at 6pm on 8 July at the Simbithi Country Club Pavilion room to help come up with more solutions. Representatives from Sembcorp Siza Water and the iLembe District Municipality will be there.
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