Working together ensures more water services and security – Minister Mchunu | Infrastructure news

Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu has implored the KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial and local government, Umgeni Water Board and the private sector to work together to ensure water security in the province.

Mchunu was speaking during an event on recommissioning of Aqueduct 1 and Reservoir 3 at the Durban Heights’ Umgeni Water Treatment Works in the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality on Friday, 13 January 2023. Mchunu was joined by KwaZulu-Natal Provincial government delegation.

The minister said as a follow-up to the meeting that took place in December last year, where a multi-disciplinary team was set up to deal with water services issues in the eThekwini Metro and the rest of the province, another meeting is set for 20 January 2023 to follow up on some of the decisions taken during that previous meeting.

“This will provide us an opportunity to get an update on the progress made in activating some of the decisions taken during those meetings. A technical team was also set to conduct assessments on the needs of the city and will enable us to come up with a way forward on what needs urgent priority,” said Mchunu.

On the recommissioned repaired infrastructure, the Minister expressed satisfaction towards uMgeni Water for completing the refurbishment of Aqueduct 1 on scheduled timelines and said the repaired Aqueduct and the reservoir will now bring back up to 350 ml/d of potable water supply to the residents of eThekwini’s Durban North and surroundings who have been experiencing intermittent water cuts since last year’s floods and the subsequent refurbishment.

“I would like to express my gratitude to uMgeni for a job well done, Aqueduct 1 is fully repaired, we are excited to be commissioning it. This means that 90 Ml/d of raw water will now flow from the dam through to the reservoir, and this is good news as it means the water supply will be restored. Now we are looking forward to the completion of Aqueduct 2 at the end of June as per your schedule so that it also increases the volume of the much-needed water to the communities,” Mchunu said.

Furthermore, in his conversation with the traditional leaders of KwaNgcolosi Tribal Council along the area where the repair of the pipeline is taking place, Mchunu urged the leaders to caution residents to refrain from building infrastructure on servitudes and riverbanks to prevent future tragedies such as one experienced during the floods.

“What we witnessed in April last year was a sheer horror, it is something that we do not want to see ever again in our lifetime, therefore we would like to urge you as leaders of these communities to engage with the residents to move away from building on top of pipes and near floodplains, as this will endanger their lives and also prevent us from carrying our work of repairs effectively in cases like now,” Minister Mchunu stated.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube expressed her appreciation to the teams that worked on the repairs, led by uMgeni Water under the guidance of the Department of Water and Sanitation for working tirelessly to make this day a reality.

“Today marks a breakthrough for those communities in particular that have been suffering from lack of access to water in the areas surrounding Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu and many other areas in the north of Durban who rely on this network of water supply… as these aqueducts supply water to Umgeni’s biggest water treatment works called Durban Heights.”

This recovery of water infrastructure is part of the overall rebuilding programme of the provincial government.

“A lot has been achieved, and much still needs to be done but let us persists to work together with a view of building a better KwaZulu-Natal. We appeal to residents, industries, and businesses to play their part by paying for water provision so that we can maintain and expand our water infrastructure.

“Let us repair leaks in our homes and report those that need to be attended by the municipality, conserve and use water sparingly, understanding that water is a critical but scarce resource, said Premier Dube- Ncube,” said Mchunu.

The infrastructures were recently refurbished by the uMgeni Water, as the Implementing Agent. The Aqueduct 1 and 2 were severely damaged by rock falls on 6 sites due to torrential rains that caused flooding and massive landslides.

Aqueduct 1 is made of steel and has a capacity of 105 Ml/d, while Aqueduct 2, a mainly Prestressed Concrete Pipe (PCP) transfers 155 Ml/d. This had an adverse effect on the provision of water, particularly in eThekwini Metro.

The Durban Heights Reservoir 3 is a 350ml reservoir situated just outside the Durban CBD and supplies potable water to over five hundred thousand people in Durban and the surrounding areas.

The reservoir underwent heavy operations and maintenance after safety issues were identified at the water storage structure.

In his closing remarks, Minister Mchunu hinted at some of the project that the Department is undertaking in order to ensure water security.

The projects included but are not limited to Hazelmere Dam wall expansion project that is nearing its completion, the construction of Smithfield and Ngwadini Dams in the upper uMkhomazi, as part of the bigger uMkhomazi Bulk Water Supply Scheme to further augment current supply of water in the province.

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