Leisurely long showers late at night may soon come to an end for eThekwini residents, as the council plans to restrict water flow for seven hours at night.
And there are threats that water supply could be restricted during the day as well.
As dam levels continue to drop, the eThekwini Municipality announced its latest plans late on Friday afternoon, at the same time that other authorities made their plans known to root out people abusing water resources, and for plans to build more infrastructure to save water.
eThekwini Municipality aims to reduce water supply and demand in areas that are supplied by the Midmar Dam system, by limiting water supply from 9pm to 4am to allow the reservoirs to fill up for the next day.
Municipal spokesman, Thulani Mbatha said: “In this way we can ensure the water is available to everyone during the day.”
The municipality said it would engage with businesses and public facilities operators to ensure their operational plans are in line with the current water management plan. eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo said the municipality was confident that this intervention would achieve the required water saving.
“However, if we are not able to achieve this, an option of limiting water supply during the day will be considered,” said Nxumalo.
Other measures to encourage water conservation include water pressure reduction, installation of water meter restrictors, extensive communication, and fines and penalties for those with high water usage.
“The drought is a reality. However, together with the residents and businesses in
eThekwini, we can successfully reduce the impact of the drought by changing our behaviour every day,” Nxumalo said.
The municipality has installed water restrictor discs to more than 47 000 households in more than seven areas across the city.
Head of water and sanitation unit, Ednick Msweli, said for the roll-out of water restrictors, the city was targeting areas where the supply zone was not achieving the required 15 percent reduction of water consumption, which was mandatory for all consumers.
“We have continuous engagements with the community where water restrictor discs are being installed. The independent plumbing contractors on our roster are allocated a shift, and then rotated. This list is continually rolled over so that the work is shared fairly between all the certified plumbing contractors,” he said.
Msweli said all certified contract plumbers had eThekwini plumbing contractor identification cards.
“The water restricting disc is simply a tool to assist the community to reduce their consumption. However, residents are still required to use less water,” he said.
The latest proposed restrictions come as the provincial co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) department announced on Friday that a R3.4 billion municipal infrastructure grant (MIG) has been set aside to help KZN municipalities improve their service delivery on water, sanitation and infrastructure in the face of the drought.
“Cogta has been delivering municipal infrastructure as the province has been battling the worst drought in a generation. Additional water infrastructure, which includes new and refurbished boreholes as well as water storage facilities for the most drought affected municipalities, is being delivered in earnest,” said MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube.
Coupled with that, the national Department of Water and Sanitation also announced its tough stance on unregistered water users in a provincial briefing on Friday, urging residents and companies that access natural water resources, to register their use, to avoid a drain on the natural resource.
“We want people to use water wisely. Water is precious at present. Even operating a car wash is a sinful act as it wastes precious potable water that can be used for drinking,” said Jay Reddy, acting chief executive for the Pongola-Umzimkulu Proto catchment management agency.