Msunduzi has multimillion-rand plans to turn around its water woes

The Msunduzi municipality in KwaZulu-Natal  is forging ahead with its investigations into widespread vandalism of water meters, which cause water outages to businesses and households in the city.

The senior manager for water and sanitation, Brendan Sivparsad, said this at a press conference called by the municipality’s deputy mayor, Mxolisi Mkhize, who is also chair of the infrastructure portfolio committee.

“There have been acts of vandalism which the municipality is investigating with the police. I am not going to engage further as it might prejudice the investigations,” said Sivparsad.

The briefing coincides with national water week.

Mkhize urged the public to report water leaks, burst pipes and illegal connections.

“We understand that we need to improve our services. This so we and the future generations will enjoy some of the best drinking water for generations to come,” said Mkhize. He said the municipality would ensure that the public has clean drinking water.

He said the city had lost more than 30% of its water. As a result, the municipality had adopted a strategy aimed at reducing water losses while increasing revenue.

After the municipality’s adjustment budget last month, the municipality had moved swiftly in allocating funding and awarding a contract to a company which would be doing leak detection and repairs.

The programme is set to commence in the next four weeks.

He said while it was not the municipality’s intention to privatise,  they had realised that to beef up the internal structures they needed external help.

Mkhize said they had established where there were high leakage volumes.

“Sometimes it’s not the leaks you see that you have problem with but those you don’t see. Leak detectors will use acoustics to detect leaks,” he said.

He said the municipality had set a target of replacing 3,800 water meters by the end of July, which they hope will help achieve billing accuracy. To date, they had replaced more than 2,700 meters.

Sivparsad said they had mooted a five-year plan which would require a staggering R745m to replace pipes.

He said they had gone back 10 years in identifying areas which are prone to pipe bursts and  as part of capital projects had secured more than R122m through the municipal infrastructure grant for installation of pipes in the under-resourced areas of Edendale.

The unit will look at bolstering its fleet while also using plumbers to increase the turnaround time for fixing water-related issues.

Sivparsad said two dams, Midmar and Albert Falls, had been overflowing owing to the good rains that the region had enjoyed in recent months.

In the case of Albert Falls, it was the first time in 15 years.

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