Old water pipe imageThe eThekwini Municipality acquired a R700million loan as well as a R93 million grant last week that will be used for the city’s Northern and Western Aqueduct Projects.

“The programme will strengthen the capacity of bulk water supply and meet the needs of the greater eThekwini region,” the eThekwini Municipality said in a statement.

Funding for the projects has come from three sources:

  • The Infrastructure Investment Programme of South Africa’s Direct Capital Grant will contribute R93million. This has been funded by the European Union.
  • A loan agreement worth R350 million will be received from the Development Bank of South Africa
  • A loan agreement worth R350 million will be received from the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD).

The funds will be received at the end of October and the municipality indicated that both projects were expected to be completed by 2019.

The municipality said both projects “are aimed at addressing water-related challenges where the existing bulk water supply infrastructure has reached the limit of its capacity”.

Residents have been affected by this as their water supply has been constrained and developments to improve infrastructure have been put on hold.

“Aged infrastructure is another challenge where the effects have impacted on water quality,” the municipality said.

eThekwini Municipality’s performance assessment

The municipality recently underwent an assessment of its performance indicators. This included its debtor’s collection rate and the average number of days taken to pay creditors.

City Manager, Sibusiso Sithole said this was positive for investor confidence in the city. “It is a confirmation that eThekwini Municipality is on sound financial ground, hence development finance institutions like DBSA and AFD have facilitated this funding which will contribute to programmes that will ensure water supply for residents and commercial stakeholders,” he said.

Martha Stein-Sochas, regional director at AFD said the organisation was pleased to contribute to such programmes. “We are aware of the situation that South Africa is in, with the water shortages and drought,” she said. “This is why we have decided to come on board and provide funding that will be injected into two major projects that are of benefit to the community.”

Drought update in eThekwini

As the drought continues in eThekwini, the municipality said it has continued to urge residents to be water wise.

The municipality added that several interventions were implemented to ensure a sustainable water supply which included:

  • A water supply ranging from 15 to 50% to preserve available storage in the Midmar, Albert Falls and Inanda dams.
  • The hiring of 103 Extended Public Works Programme employees who have been deployed in some wards to expedite the reporting of faults including water pipe bursts and leaks as well as supply interruptions.
  • A WhatsApp reporting line to help customers speedily report faults.
  • Further training has being offered to contractors so they can be upgraded to category A in order to increase the number of plumbers available to carry out repairs.
  • The filling of vacant, funded maintenance posts is being expedited to increase internal maintenance capacity.
  • The installation of restrictors in individual homes is ongoing.

Zandile Gumede, eThekwini Mayor, welcomed the interventions but suggested that other alternatives such as jojo tanks and boreholes should also be utilised to assist affected communities.

“Staff should be trained and utilised to carry out repairs. We welcome these interventions as the drought is very serious. However, where costs can be minimised, it must be,” she said.

Rain and dam levels in eThekwini
Currently Midmar Dam is at 48.06% capacity, Albert Falls at 24.5% and Inanda Dam is at 63.41% capacity.

Head of Water and Sanitation in eThekwini, Ednick Msweli, said the total storage in the uMgeni system at the beginning of August 2016 was 48% compared to its 72% capacity this time last year.

He said Umgeni Water was continuing to reduce the city’s water supply in line with the Minister of Water and Sanitation’s directive to reduce demand by 15%. He added that water tankers have also been deployed to areas that were known to have supply issues.

Contact details

EThekwini residents are urged to report illegal water connections and water leaks by calling 080 131 3013. Residents can also SMS 43554 or email Eservices@durban.gov.za.

Residents may also make use of the recently launched WhatsApp Water Reporting number, 073 148 3477. Customers will at times be asked to take pictures of the leaks or bursts to allow correct coding of faults to be done at capturing stage.