State of dams in Umgeni Water’s operational area as at Thursday, 15th February 2018

Site 15 Feb 2018 09 Feb 2018 16 Feb 2017
Spring Grove Dam 92.15 87.53 63.26
Mearns Weir 114.04
An estimated 80 mm rainfall was received in the catchments of this weir over the past four weeks, hence overflow of this weir
104.16 121.31
Midmar Dam 96.45
There has been heavy rainfall in the catchments of this dam over the past three weeks and, until recently; water was being transferred into Midmar Dam from Spring Grove. Midmar last spilled in February 2014 when its level exceeded 100%
94.52 62.54
Albert Falls Dam 23.44
This dam has remained consistently at below 30% for approximately two years
22.72 26.57
Nagle Dam 68.26 69.97 78.92
Inanda Dam 62.94 62.99 61.14
Nungwane Dam 102.61 101.01 87.74
Umzinto Dam 100.28 100.28 100.46
E.J. Smith Dam - 100.05 100.08
Ludeke Dam 100
This dam is in the Eastern Cape and is being managed by Umgeni Water
104.16 121.31
Hazelmere Dam 68.26 94.52 62.54

The dams above are either owned or managed by Umgeni Water. With the exception of Henley - which has been decommissioned – the rest are operational and ultimately supply water to an estimated six million consumers in uMgungundlovu, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, iLembe, Middle South Coast (Ugu) and Ixopo (Harry Gwala DM).

On Tuesday, 13th February 2018, a media briefing was held at Albert Falls to illustrate the serious extent of water shortages in this dam, impact of water shortages and the consequences of failure of this dam if adequate rains are not received and if consumer behaviour does not change.

The media briefing was part of Umgeni Water’s intensified efforts to create awareness that water shortages still prevail in the Mgeni system – the largest system in Umgeni Water’s operational area. Albert Falls augments Nagle Dam which, in turn, supplies water to Durban Heights Waterworks for treatment and supply to some of Durban’s reservoirs. An estimated two million consumers are dependent on Albert Falls for water.

The Mgeni system comprises, in its upper part, Mearns Weir, Spring Grove Dam and Midmar Dam and in its lower part Albert Falls, Nagle and Inanda dams. It ultimately supplies water to an estimated four million consumers in uMgungundlovu, Pietermaritzburg, Durban and in the north of Ugu.

Inadequacy of water resources in Albert Falls continues to weigh heavily on the Mgeni system and is preventing easing or lifting of 15% water restrictions. These restrictions are now in their second year. Albert Falls, at 23%, is the lowest it has been in 20 years. As a result of inadequate water resources in Albert Falls, water is being pumped from Inanda Dam to Durban Heights WW at significant cost. Accompanying effect of this is the sharp drop in the levels of Nagle and Inanda dams.

Of great concern to Umgeni Water is the level of Albert Falls, a strategically important dam that has consistently remained at under 30% for at least two years. A complication is the high evaporation rate of surface water at Albert Falls, and current high temperatures are not assisting in preservation of water resources. It has been estimated by Umgeni Water that in the worst-case scenario – meaning if there is no rainfall, if high temperatures continue and if no water is released from Midmar Dam – Albert Falls could reach dead storage in a year.

On Friday, 9th February 2018, the Mgeni sytem Joint Operations Committee (JOC) met in Durban to reassess the status of water resources in this system. The JOC is multi-stakeholder committee that was established to monitor and manage water production, distribution and consumption in uMgungundlovu, Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

A decision taken at the 9th February 2018 meeting was that while good rains in Midmar Dam’s catchments had improved the level of this dam significantly – increasing by 1% per day - the system in its totality was still short of a target of 70% before restrictions could be eased or removed. The collective amount of water currently in the Mgeni system is 62% - 8% less than the amount required before a firm pronouncement could be made that there is adequate water to meet the full demands of uMgungundlovu, Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

It was also decided at the JOC meeting that water restrictions of 15% in about 80% of Durban, all of Pietermaritzburg and all of uMgungundlovu will remain in place. This means Umgeni Water will continue to reduce potable water production by 15%, municipalities of Msunduzi, uMgungundlovu and eThekwini will have reduce demand by 15% and households, business, industry and government sector will also have to reduce consumption by 15%.

In other parts of Umgeni Water’s operational area, the situation is far better. Dams in the South Coast – EJ Smith, Nungwane, Umzinto and Mhlabatshane – are in a healthy state and are able to meet the full needs of Ugu DM for supply to consumers in Umzinto, Kelso, Scottburgh, Park Rynie and surrounding areas. In the north of Durban, Hazelmere Dam is also in a healthy state and is able to meet the full demand of eThekwini Metro for reticulation to Verulam, Waterloo, Sea Tides, La Mercy and parts of Ndwedwe. Hazelmere Dam also supplies parts of iLembe District, specifically Ballito and Umhlali. It is also able to meet the full needs of iLembe DM. iMvutshane Dam supplies Maphumulo in iLembe District and it is also able to meet full demand of this municipality. Home Farm Dam supplies Harry DM for reticulation to Ixopo and surrounding areas.

As part of its strategic plans to enhance assurance and security of future water supply within the area to the north of Durban and south of iLembe, the Department of Water and Sanitation has increased capacity of Hazelmere Dam through raising of the dam wall. Apart from enlarging capacity, raising of the wall will also restore loss of storage capacity through sedimentation.

This project involved raising the existing wall by seven metres in a piano key design, similar to that of the wall of Midmar Dam. The new capacity of Hazelmere Dam is now 37 million cubic metres – more than double its previous capacity of 17, 7 million cubic metres. This project is now close to completion, and interested parties will be informed when completion occurs.