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Working to ensure steady water and electricity supply

Date: 2023-02-01 16:09:53

Working to ensure steady water and electricity supply

I WOULD like to apologise to all the City’s customers who are experiencing intermittent provision of basic services such as electricity and water. The City buys electricity from the national power utility, Eskom, to the tune of R13.2 billion per year.
We then subsequently provide this electricity to customers in accordance with tariffs prescribed by NERSA. The power utility has recently experienced several breakdowns at seven of its coal powered stations. 

This has resulted in Eskom resorting to opening its gas turbines to keep the lights on, which is an expensive exercise. The
breakdowns have resulted in the deficit of just over 5000 megawatts from the national grid. This has led to stage six load shedding being introduced. We were then compelled by this announcement to cut power in accordance with our load shedding schedule. This is a decision that is always difficult to take because we fully understand the negative impact it
has on paying customers. 

The implementation of load shedding has a domino effect on the provision of many basic services. For instance, we require
power to pump water to various reservoirs from treatment plants. This is among the reason there has been a surge of areas experiencing outages. This impacts negatively on sewerage pump stations that need power to pump raw sewerage to waste water treatment works. Electricity infrastructure is not designed to be switched on and off frequently. What is also compounding our woes is that when the power is restored after load shedding, there is usually an increase in demand because households rush to use different appliances simultaneously.

This overloads the system, resulting in some mini substations tripping while others burst completely. Our teams also
have their hands full battling cable theft which causes some clients to endure power outages outside of the load shedding schedule. Illegal connections are also creating problems for the electricity grid. Every year more than seven percent of our power is stolen. We disconnect illegal connections daily, but as soon as we turn our backs, communities reconnect again. It is a collective responsibility to nip this scourge in the bud.

Last year we introduced water rationing in several areas that are serviced by the Durban Heights Water Treatment Works. This was because of the uMgeni Water Board being unable to provide us with enough water as per our contract with them. This was after they decommissioned Reservoir 3 for refurbishment. This is a huge reservoir and without it, the City
had to rely on two reservoirs which battled to meet the demand. The flood damage to two water aqueducts that delivered raw water from Nagle Dam to this facility for treatment added to their problems.

We are elated that Reservoir 3 has since been recommissioned and one aqueduct is also back on track. Work is at an advanced stage to get the other aqueduct to feed the system by June. These new developments are therefore going to assist in alleviating water rationing in affected areas. In the meanwhile, we are building capacity at all our reservoirs and
are working towards ensuring that the system is stabilised soon.