STATEMENT: Heavy downpours cause damage to Umgeni Water infrastructure
Tuesday, 12 April 2022
Heavy rains over the past four (4) days have caused substantial damage to some of Umgeni Water’s raw water abstraction and conveyance infrastructure in at least three regions. At this stage following early assessments, Umgeni Water is able to report that two aqueducts, which convey raw water to the Durban Heights Water Treatment Works, broke through rock falls in the vicinity of Inanda. These aqueducts have since been taken out of use due to the risk they pose to property and people.
Other damage reported overnight (Tuesday) has confirmed that the river abstraction system in Mtwalume River (South Coast) is not functioning because of blockage caused by the flooded river. Further, abstraction from the Umzinto River Dam has reduced significantly due to high overflows, resulting in only 60% of potable water that is required being produced at the Umzinto Water Treatment.
In iLembe, potable water production at the Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme has been reduced because of high turbidity in raw water and abstraction pumps continue to fail as a result of silt in the abstraction channels. The command reservoir levels are low and as a consequence of this, supply to KwaDukuza Central Business District, Darnall, Zamani and Zinkwazi has been interrupted.
Three of Umgeni Water’s customers – eThekwini Metro, Ugu District Municipality and iLembe District Municipality – are cautioned that potable water production by Umgeni Water has been compromised, which will result in significant reduction in supply of drinking water. An appeal is, therefore, being made to these municipalities to please reduce demand in order for Umgeni Water to try to effectively manage available water resources.
Durban Heights Water Treatment Plant: The two aqueducts that have been damaged in the rock fall are among four (4) aqueducts that convey water from Nagle Dam for treatment at the Durban Heights Water Treatment Plant. The consequence has been that the plant is currently receiving raw from only two of the functioning aqueducts. The plant, therefore, is only treating half of the amount of water it normally treats and supplies daily. Water treated at this plant is conveyed to eThekwini Water and Sanitation, which supplies consumers in the north, south, central and inner west regions of Durban.
The current potable water shortfall means that eThekwini Water and Sanitation is unable to meet the full requirements of consumers. Until the aqueducts are repaired and brought back into full functionality, a deficit in raw water supply will prevail. Similarly, reduced supply of bulk potable water will continue to prevail. The impact on consumers will be experienced in erratic supply, interruptions in supply or low pressure in taps.
South Coast System: Mtwalume. Apart from failure of the abstraction system, additional damage caused by localised flooding was loss of the standby backup submersible pumping system at the Mtwalume Water Treatment Plant. Due to the current situation, Umgeni Water is unable to treat water at the plant for supply to Ugu District Municipality. This situation will unfortunately prevail until the level of the river subsides, thereby allowing asset management staff to reach the abstraction equipment for removal and repair. Restoration of the standby pumping system is being treated as a priority. Water treated at this plant is ultimately received by consumers in Mtwalume, Ifafa, Bazley, Sezela and surrounding areas.
South Coast System: Umzinto. Reduced production at the Umzinto Water Treatment Plant due to abstraction difficulties means that Umgeni Water is unable to meet the full demand of Ugu District Municipality for supply to Umzinto, Park Rynie, Pennington, Kelso and Malangeni. Unfortunately this production and supply deficit will continue until Umgeni Water is able to abstract the full amount of raw water it requires.
The extent of damage reported in this communique is an early assessment provided by staff who work at the sites that operate the affected infrastructure. Persistent torrential rains and impassable access routes have made it impossible for staff of Umgeni Water to reach critical and major infrastructure in order to conduct a comprehensive analysis. The scope of investigation will be extended once conditions improve. Based on the outcomes, a clearer picture will emerge of the magnitude of damage, what needs to be done to restore full functionality and how long this process is expected to take.
Additional information will be shared with customers and consumers as it becomes available in the days ahead.
Umgeni Water provides an assurance to its customers and consumers that once conditions improve, there will be no delays in executing the required repair work so that full potable water production and supply are returned to normal.
Issued by the Corporate Stakeholder Management Unit, Office of the Chief Executive Umgeni Water