Water restrictions have changed the lives of many across northern KwaZulu-Natal, but the rest of the country is not immune to the effects of the water shortage. Climate change, leakages and illegal connections continue to weigh heavily on our dwindling water supply.
Water shedding has been implemented in Kwa Zulu Natal since June this year. The rationing of water in the province is due to drought, non-payment of water services and continued high water usage patterns from households and businesses.
Ethekwini Municipality’s water shedding is the water equivalent of Eskom’s electricity load shedding. A certain amount of water is allocated to each household and business in the affected areas on a daily basis. Water restrictors, which restrict water flow by 30%, have been installed into taps in the eThekwini Municipality to ensure even distribution.
“When I was home during the mid-year break, we didn’t have water from 9am until 4pm on a Friday” said Riante Naidoo, a Wits journalism student and resident of Allandale, Pietermaritzburg.
Water rationing in the province has been brought on largely by the recent drought that has hit the province. Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane launched National Water Week in the drought-stricken KwaDukuza in KwaZulu-Natal on 16 March 2015 under the theme: “Water Has No Substitute”. The significantly below-average rainfall together with severe frost in the Midlands region during the past winter left many supply areas severely affected.
The water levels of the Hazelmere dam, which supplies water to thousands of people in the Northern region of KZN, declined to under 30% in July 2015. Reservoirs have been shut down in the Burbreeze, Emona, Grange, Redcliff and Waterloo areas including areas under the Ilembe District Municipality which encompasses areas like Ballito.
The eThekwini municipality also reported that water leakages, illegal water connections and vandalism account for about 237 million litres of water loss per day. The municipality is offering residents a chance to convert to a legal connection.
Amnesty is being offered to those who declare that they have been connecting illegally to the water network but a R250 service fee is then charged for the legal connection.
According to the Global Risks Report 2015, climate change is one of the most significant long term risks to South Africa. The effects of climate change have also had enormous repercussions on the water supply in the country.
Some Johannesburg residents say that water shedding is not a new phenomenon. “Sometimes when you wake up, there is no water” said a wits student who lives in Diepkloof Soweto.
Sporadic rains have hit the coast in recent weeks but KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube says the recent rainfall may give a false impression that the drought is over.