Ballito and surrounding areas experienced water shortages in December

Ballito and surrounding areas experienced water shortages in December (from the 19th ), which resulted in the imposition of water restrictions at night by the Ilembe District Municipality to allow the Avondale Reservoir to recover. The Avondale Reservoir is operated by Umgeni Water, and the water shortages experienced by consumers were as a result of Umgeni Water not being able to meet the significant increase in demand among consumers during the summer recess. The increase in demand had been as a result of a higher-than-expected number of visitors arriving in Ballito and surrounds and the extremely hot weather at the time.

Now there have been media reports about concerns being expressed among local consumers that a similar situation could occur again during the Easter holidays. This statement has been issued by Umgeni Water on behalf of the Acting Executive of Umgeni Water, Nica Gevers, to allay fears/concerns among consumers and reassure them that several measures have been implemented or are to be implemented – reflected in this statement under the headings Peak Demand Periods in 2012, Short-Term measures to mitigate the effects of supply shortages and consequent interruptions, and Medium-Term measures to mitigate the effects of supply shortages and consequent interruptions – in order to avert water supply interruptions and shortages during Easter and beyond.

Shami Harichunder
Corporate Stakeholder Manager

In the past week media reports have alluded to the possibility of water shortages occurring during the Easter recess in Ballito, akin to the supply problems that had been experienced in December 2011.

Umgeni Water regrets and apologises for the inconvenience caused by water shortages experienced during December 2011 and the impact thereof on the communities of Ballito and surrounding areas. As the Acting Chief Executive of Umgeni Water - which is the Bulk Water Service Provider to the Ilembe District Municipality and Sembcorp Siza Water - I would like to assure our customers and the community that we have and will continue to take the necessary steps to prevent a similar occurrence.

We are confident that the following measures will not only address the immediate operating problems but will also address the short to medium-term water requirements of the iLembe District Municipality and Sembcorp Siza

Peak demand periods in 2012

Umgeni Water has convened an emergency task team to address the situation. In conjunction with Sembcorp Siza Water (the provider of reticulated water services to Ballito), Umgeni Water has revised and amended the operating rules of water supply. This means, in effect, that there will be intensified monitoring of the levels of the Avondale Reservoir - which supplies Sembcorp Siza Siza Water’s systems to prevent the level from dropping to the extent which might impact on service delivery to consumers. In preparation for the peak consumption period anticipated during the Easter recess, Umgeni Water, together with Semcorp Siza Water, will be implementing a strategy of building up storage levels in secondary reservoirs to accommodate the expected high outflow from the reservoir during the peak demand period. It may be necessary to shut off the supply to certain consumers late at night prior to and during the peak demand period to maintain the minimum supply level at Avondale Reservoir. Back-up plans to manage the existing infrastructure are in place, and relevant spares and pumps have been made available to be installed within hours to minimise down time.

Short-term measures to mitigate the effects of supply shortages and consequent interruptions

As noted by the Ilembe District Municipality, a new pipeline from Hazelmere Water Treatment Plant to Avondale Reservoir is required to remove bottlenecks and enhance supply to the Avondale Reservoir. This pipeline, which was originally intended to be completed by March 2013, will be brought forward to early December 2012. It will be 10 km in length and 700 mm in diameter. A dedicated new pump station to supply the La Mercy Reservoir will be built by October 2013.

Medium to long-term measures to mitigate the effects of supply shortages and consequent interruptions

Other infrastructure needed to meet future demands in Ilembe arising from growing housing, industrial and business development and a buoyant economy will be addressed within the next three years. The key projects in this initiative are the planned upgrade to Hazelmere Water Treatment Plant from the existing 45Ml/day treatment capacity to 75 Ml/day capacity, the raising of the Hazelmere Dam wall by the Department of Water Affairs and the upgrade of the raw water pipeline from the dam to the treatment works.

The Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme is currently being designed and it will abstract water from the uThukela River, treat up to 110 Ml/day to supply the North Coast and augment supply to Ballito.

Umgeni Water gives its undertaking it will provide the best quality service and product at all times.