New year, same old water woes for uMkhanyakude residents
"People in the greater Mtubatuba area are getting desperate after having not a drop of running water for at least one week"
Despite a leak in the water pipeline near Umfolozi Golf Course in Mtubatuba being fixed last Wednesday, no water was pumped from Mtubatuba waterworks on the Mfolozi River for the entire New Year weekend.
Insufficient river water was the reason, leaving residents in the greater area without running water.
It appeared those manning the pumps did not foresee the water shortage, despite the visible drying of the Mfolozi River, so did not plan accordingly.
However, pump operators told a source they did indeed indicate the need for an excavator to harvest river water but uMkhanyakude District Municipality failed to authorise one until Monday morning.
By Monday afternoon, water was reportedly being pumped to the treatment plant but by Wednesday morning there was still no running water for residents from KwaMsane to St Lucia and everywhere in between.
‘There is insufficient water for all areas to receive water at the same time,’ said the source.
‘And when water is pumped all the way to Cape Vidal via the 400 line, it must reach Cape Vidal first before the airlock is removed and there is enough pressure to feed all other areas, including Nordale, Dukuduku, Khula Village, Monzi and St Lucia’.
Nobody appears to know how many of the recommissioned boreholes are functioning but private trucks are allegedly filling up from the borehole pipeline, thus further reducing the supply.
While three municipal truck loads of water were delivered to the St Lucia reservoir on Monday, the level was not raised sufficiently to allow water to be released to residents.
With no water to flush toilets, wash hands, shower or wash clothes, people are becoming desperate and believe local government is not interested in solving the issue.
Despite a potential health risk, the Department of Health spokesperson on Tuesday said the department would not get involved.
uMkhanyakude District spokesperson, Mdu Dlamini, on Wednesday confirmed the severity of the situation, with the worst affected areas being Mtubatuba greater area, Hluhluwe. uMhlabuyalingana and Hlabisa.
Of the four reservoirs at Bhobhoza in Mtubatuba, only one contains water – a mere 2.5%.
Hluhluwe Dam is currently at 22%, with less than half the usual supply from Hluhluwe Phase One.
Dlamini said the recommissioned Mfolozi boreholes in use are yielding 2.5ML a day, with river excavation adding a further 2.5ML. However, the amount of water required to service Mtubatuba waterworks’ coverage area is 26ML a day.
uMkhanyakude was declared a disaster area by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube who appointed uMngeni Water to work with uMkhanyakude in fixing leaks, rehabilitating old schemes and drilling boreholes.
Dlamini said water tankers are currently drawing from Mkhuze but uMkhanyakude has engaged uMhlatuze to start drawing from Empangeni.
uMkhanyakude has also hired a contractor to drill wells on the Mfolozi riverbed, which should yield 10ML a day.
‘The municipality urges all residents within the district to use water sparingly,’ said Dlamini.
‘We will start the rationing programme to all affected areas, including Hluhluwe Town, Mtubatuba Town, KwaMsane and St Lucia’.