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eThekwini Municipality water woes: repairs to Umgeni water shaft pump to take five weeks

DA caucus leader in eThekwini, Nicole Graham, said Umgeni Water was working on refurbishing an additional reservoir and opening an aqueduct which is offline. Picture: Umgeni Water

DA caucus leader in eThekwini, Nicole Graham, said Umgeni Water was working on refurbishing an additional reservoir and opening an aqueduct which is offline. Picture: Umgeni Water

Published Nov 21, 2021

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DURBAN – eThekwini Municipality’s water crisis could be sorted out in five weeks, according to DA caucus leader in eThekwini Nicole Graham, who provided an update on the municipality’s water issues on Sunday morning.

Graham said eThekwini had been experiencing severe water issues since last Friday, which was due to a pump failure at Durban Heights Water Works, where Umgeni Water, the municipality's bulk-water service provider, processes water from the dam to get it into your tap.

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Graham said this has reduced the overall water supply in eThekwini by about 10% and has had significant impact in the north and south (uMlazi, Phoenix, Durban North and surrounding areas).

The eThekwini Municipality said areas that might experience water shortages during the maintenance process are Northdene, Verulam, Buffelsdraai, Trenance, Ntuzuma, Inanda, Umzinyathi, Aloes, Avoca, KwaMashu, KwaSanti, Demat, Welbedatch West, uMlazi (C, part of D section, CC, K, P, N, F, G, H, W, Q, R, M, L, AA, BB), Folweni, Golokodo, Nsimbini, Nagina and Luganda.

“The repairs to the shaft pump have been commissioned and will take five weeks. There are five shaft pumps at Umgeni,” Graham said.

“Umgeni is also working on refurbishing an additional reservoir and opening an aqueduct that is offline.”

Graham said the DA has been engaging city management daily to ensure that there is enough relief assistance available when communities do not have water. Their councillors on the ground have also been working hard to ensure that they monitor and report outages and try to get tankers to those who need them.

“The sachet plant is now working and will also be available to assist.

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“The reality is that when big outages occur, the municipality does not have enough tanker capacity. We have requested city management to resolve this. Since the fault is on Umgeni’s side, there has been an ongoing conversation about Umgeni providing this assistance,” Graham said.

She added that they would continue to monitor and work with communities daily and fight to ensure that people do not go without water.

She also called for water to be used reasonably during this time.

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On Thursday, in a statement, Board of Umgeni Water chairperson Ziphozethu Gabsie Mathenjwa said they were aware that an emergency shaft pump had failed at Umgeni Water’s Durban Heights Water Works on November 11, causing inadequate volumes of raw water reaching the plant for treatment and supply to eThekwini Water and Sanitation.

“This situation still prevails, but everything possible is being done by Umgeni Water in conjunction with eThekwini Water and Sanitation to stabilise systems within eThekwini’s networks and at the Durban Heights Water Works.

“Some success has been achieved through prevention of collapse of systems, but many challenges still remain and staff at Umgeni Water and eThekwini Water and Sanitation are working round the clock to find short-term solutions to them,” Mathenjwa said.

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Information made available to Umgeni Water showed that at least 12 areas in the north, south and central Durban continue to be affected.

Mathenjwa apologised to affected consumers for the inconvenience and assured them that eThekwini Water and Sanitation and Umgeni Water staff were working hard at developing further strategies aimed at bringing relief to the affected consumers.

“A contractor has been appointed to undertake the work required to remove the shaft pump – which is about 200m below surface – disassemble, refurbish and re-install it. This is time-consuming and complex work, but everything possible will be done to complete it before the allocated time. There are other initiatives that will be implemented in the short-term to augment water supply to the Durban Heights plant. These include repairing Nagle Aqueduct 4 and bringing it back to functionality, and completing outstanding work on Reservoir 4 at the Durban Heights Water Works in order to recommission it,” Mathenjwa said.

On Wednesday, eThekwini Municipality urged the public to use water sparingly. With everyone’s help, they would be able to conserve the available water reserves and make them last as long as possible.

The day before, the municipality mobilised water tankers for affected residents.

The municipality said for more information regarding water supply, members of the public can contact their call centre on 080 131 3013, the toll-free number 080 311 1111 or use the eThekwini Water and Sanitation WhatsApp number on 073 148 3477.

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