DURBAN - THE eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) department has asked for R400 million to fix ageing water infrastructure in the Durban south area.
Ednick Msweli, the head of EWS, made the request at an eThekwini Executive Committee meeting (Exco) on Tuesday.
Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and officials met with residents in uMlazi over water supply issues on Monday.
Msweli told Exco that the pipes were damaged and corroded, and if the department delayed any further it would be detrimental to service delivery. He said the unit did not have the budget for the repairs and asked if the city could enter into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Umgeni Water in order to engage it on providing support in both the replacement and augmentation of ageing water infrastructure supplying bulk water to parts of the Inner West and South regions of the metro.
A report to the city’s Human Settlement and Infrastructure Committee in November 2021 stated that EWS was facing a number of challenges linked to water supply, which included leaks and burst-on-the-trunk mains that run from Durban Heights to uMlazi. These challenges were on the 1 200mm diameter steel and 950mm diameter soccoman twin trunk mains that covered a distance of 24km. The report stated that a number of communities were affected.
The report also revealed that the municipality was struggling to meet its obligation to supply water continuously to all customers connected to its network. This was due to ageing infrastructure and an increase in water demand due to population growth.
Over the past two years the municipality has experienced frequent water supply interruptions in Chatsworth, Northdene, Queensburgh, Shallcross, St Wendolins, Nagina, Welbedacht, uMlazi, Folweni, Nsimbini and Golokodo due to leaks and bursts on the trunk mains.
It also found that some of the sections of the trunk mains were completely decommissioned in certain points. These two trunk mains provided bulk supply from Umgeni Water’s Durban Heights Reservoir to several reservoirs downstream from Northdene to Folweni, and therefore were critical in ensuring assurance of supply for many communities in the Inner West and South operational regions of the City.
The estimated length of this bulk supply system from Durban Heights to Chatsworth was approximately 24km, with no alternative supply to the uMlazi system, which reduces the resilience of the system when there are forced or planned shutdowns.
The report stated that it was imperative as a city to find a replacement or alternative to supply these areas.
eThekwini DA leader Nicole Graham said there was a serious problem with the state of the water infrastructure in the city, and it should concern Exco.
Graham welcomed any solution to deal with the issues.
IFP Exco member Mdu Nkosi said councillors were inundated with calls from residents relating to the supply of water. Nkosi called for the prioritisation and increase in the allocation of money budgeted for the EWS unit.
Kaunda said the MoU would be subjected to review by the legal department to ensure that the municipality was protected. He asked that the matter be dealt with urgently because it concerned people’s lives.
Deputy mayor Philani Mavundla said he regarded it as an “emergency”, and added that the city needed to replace most of its ageing infrastructure.
He said Monday’s meeting with the uMlazi community was not easy, and put councillors’ lives at risk.