DA calls for clear communication regarding water shedding schedule in eThekwini

21 Jun 2022 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini has written to the Head of Water and Sanitation, Ednick Msweli, to request for clarity on the water shedding schedules that have recently been published. Large parts of the city will be without water for large periods of time as eThekwini sheds water in the Durban Heights network.

Two versions of the schedules were published and both caused considerable consternation and anguish in various communities. The four-page schedule reflects many areas predicted to be shut off in excess of 10 to 15 hours every day. The proposed periods mean no water in some areas for the entire time that working families are actually at home, with water cutting off just before the business day ends and only resuming early the next morning, when most residents are already commuting to work.

eThekwini also needs to improve their communication; communities need to understand what levels of water are available in their local reservoirs and what the municipality is planning for each region as water supply increases.

The reason for this devastating water shedding is the reduced supply into the Umgeni Water bulk supply network via the Durban Heights Treatment Works. This is a result of devastation from the April floods, which damaged two of the four aqueducts into the works, and the failure to get repairs started sooner.

eThekwini Water and Sanitation’s problems, caused by poor budgeting, mismanagement, zero consequence management and a lack of preventative maintenance seem to exist at Umgeni Water. Umgeni Water has been nonchalantly posting statements about failure upon failure on the main reticulation systems for almost two years, which in effect has eroded eThekwini’s ability to maintain any semblance of normal supply under already constrained circumstances. The problems at Umgeni are quite substantial and often render thousands of people without adequate water services as they constitute the bulk supply to eThekwini.

The result is often that eThekwini has to find ways to prevent their delicate system from collapsing and this is why the extensive water schedules are formulated as each reservoir is dependent on the other in this intricate system of supply and demand. A major contributing factor is that eThekwini simply does not have the manpower nor the vehicles to drive to each tower to switch them on and off manually and that is a critical reason for people being off for longer than they should be.

The Democratic Alliance has tabled concerns over what appears to be inequitable water shedding and an unreliable schedule, and have requested a revision of the program immediately.