The Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu has assured communities living in areas that have been affected by the floods that progress work is underway to make immediate and long-term repairs to damaged water and sanitation infrastructure.

The Minister briefed the media together with the Executive Mayors of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, iLembe District Municipality and uMgungundlovu District Municipality.

Minister Mchunu outlined that the main damage is at the pipeline that supplies raw water to Durban Heights Water Treatment works in eThekwini, which has led to the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality losing about 280 megalitres of water and that has resulted in water reduction to communities.

However, Umgeni Water has made improvements on the water supply side with an additional 50 megalitres per day. Umgeni Water has also made procurement of the pipelines for repairs.

The cost of damage to pipelines is estimated as follows:

  • R63 million at iLembe District Municipality
  • R12 million at uMgungundlovu District Municipality
  • R1 billion at eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality
Minister Mchunu has assured the affected communities that the Department of Water and Sanitation, working in collaboration with the Executive Mayors in the affected Municipalities, is working with speed to try to remedy the situation.

“Most of these affected municipalities were already in deficit in terms of their ageing infrastructure. Our approach therefore is to take advantage of this situation to not only repair damaged infrastructure but also to renew these ailing infrastructures. We are making immediate interventions by repairing damaged infrastructure, but at the same time we are embarking on a renewal programme of water and sanitation infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal province”, said Minister Mchunu.

Minister Mchunu has raised a concern of the pollution of rivers by sewer spillages as a result of damaged sanitation infrastructure in the affected municipalities.

“We need to act fast to ascertain the amount of damage to sanitation infrastructure and to determine the way forward to address the problem of contamination of our water resources by these sewage spillages”, said Minister Mchunu.

The Executive Mayors from eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, iLembe District Municipality and uMgungundlovu District Municipality have also proclaimed their commitment to improve water supply to communities.

Executive Mayor of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Mxolisi Kaunda says the Municipality has reprioritised R600 million and the councillors are already at work at community level to identify areas that need to be repaired. He said water treatment plants were not severely affected in the municipality, but the problem of sewer spillages was as a result of a blocked system, rather than a system failure. “The situation is now under control and work is already underway to make immediate interventions to ensure that members of the community receive water. I can confirm that water supply has improved by 60%, particularly in Northern eThekwini”, said Executive Mayor Kaunda.

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