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The KwaZulu-Natal government has extended its declaration of a state of disaster in the eThekwini Municipality and across wide expanses of the province by an extra month.
The uMkhanyakude District Municipality, which sits in Mkuze, has confirmed that the uMfolozi River was drying up and this had interrupted water supplies to areas relying on the Mtubatuba, St Lucia and Nkolokotho water treatment plants.
It said on Monday that it had run out of water in three of its four KwaBobhoza reservoirs, with the fourth now at only 1.8% full – to provide for the municipality’s population of about 625 000 people.
uMkhanyakude’s spokesman, Mduduzi Dlamini, said the municipality had commissioned the digging of four boreholes in the uMfolozi River.
These were expected to provide about 1.8 million litres a day, but Dlamini warned this would not be enough to meet the needs of Mtubatuba and its environs, the KwaMsane area, St Lucia and other areas.
For this it needed about 26 million litres a day, he said.
Dlamini said the municipality had hired an excavator on Monday to dig a trench near the river to increase water production from 1.8 million to 5 million litres.
“In the Hluhluwe area, Hluhluwe Dam is extremely low, it is at 22%,” Dlamini said.
In good times, Hluhluwe phase 1, which supplies the Mdletshe, Hluhluwe, Makhasa, Mnqobokazi and Nibela areas, had a raw water flow of 289 cubic metres an hour.
But this had fallen to less than a third – 90 cubic metres an hour.
Premier Willies Mchunu last week extended the declaration of a state of disaster in uMkhanyakude until August 10.
In a notice in the government gazette, the premier said the declaration was because of “the continuing protracted drought and the subsequent damage and possibility of loss of life” in 41 local municipalities, in addition to the eThekwini Metro.
KZN’s Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has roped in the Umgeni Water Board to help with maintenance in uMkhanyakude.
“Umgeni is working with the uMkhanyakude district municipality to rehabilitate old schemes, repair leaks, repair the existing… main pipeline and drilling of boreholes,” Dlamini said.
While this was happening, Dlamini said much of the community would continue to rely on groundwater.
For now the municipality would be forced to ration water.
Businesses in the area are changing the ways they operate to cope with the drought.
The owner of uMfolozi River Lodge and Birdpark, Etienne Snyman, said they were switching off their reticulation pump every night at 11pm and switching it on again at 4.30am.
He said this saved water and electricity.
Snyman said the drought had got so bad that cattle were starting to graze in the town of Mtubatuba, making it hard to drive at times.
The water shortage was a “big problem”, but he said it was even worse elsewhere in Zululand.
Mtubatuba Ward 12 councillor, Luke Mkhwanazi, said they had not received water from the municipality for more than a month.
He said he had to constantly explain to people in his ward about the situation.
He said boreholes were now starting to run out of water.
The Daily News reported in May that a lack of water had contributed to riots breaking out in Jozini.
Closer to Durban, Umgeni Water on Monday confirmed that Midmar Dam stood at 45.12%, Hazelmere Dam at 44.09% and Inanda Dam at 69.3%.