Seawater flows from Port Shepstone taps – Why did Ugu municipality not prepare for this?

If you think load-shedding is bad, brace yourself for water-shedding… coming to a tap near you.

tapThousands of residents and holidaymakers on the South Coast woke up to undrinkable salty tap water on Monday as the drought tightened its grip around the province.

The towns and resorts affected by salty tap water include Port Shepstone, Margate and Hibberdene and inland to Bhoboyi. Most local shops had run out of five-litre bottled water stocks before lunch-time as customers raced to stock up.

Lungi Cele, the water services general manager of the Ugu District Municipality, said tap water was likely to remain salty until next Friday while an emergency sand berm was built across the uMzimkulu River to prevent saline water entering the municipal water supply.

She explained that the main water reservoir inland of Port Shepstone had run dry last week, forcing the municipality to pump water from the river. But because of the lack of rain, salty water from the Umzimkulu estuary had moved nearly 10km upstream to the point where water was being pumped from the river to the Bhoboyi treatment works.

While the municipal water was treated with chlorine and contained no traces of harmful bacteria, the treatment process could not remove the salt.

“You can drink it – but we are not recommending it. I tried it. It tastes like seawater,” said Cele.

Sakkie Coetzee, manager of the Margate Sands Beach Resort, said he had managed to buy just over 70 five-litre bottles of fresh water early on Monday.

“We have enough drinking water for our guests tonight (Monday), but I will have to reassess the situation in the morning,” he said.

Jean Whittaker of the Mdoni House guest lodge at Port Shepstone was not so lucky.

“I only managed to get one five-litre bottle and I have 22 people to look after. Now the shops are sold out of bottled water, but we will have to make a plan somehow.”

Dawn Nel of the Tweni Waterfront Guest Lodge said the tap water could still be used for showering, but because it was so salty it was difficult to get enough lather from soap.

“My daughter has been running around trying to find fresh water for her baby’s milk powder formula.”

Wayne Berman, the manager of the Harbour View Super Spar in Port Shepstone, said he managed to get three truckloads of bottled water on Monday, but it had quickly sold out.

The shop was now selling purified reservoir water at R1.50 a litre and customers were still queuing for it late on Monday.

Cele said that with just 28 water tankers, the Ugu District Municipality was battling to supply fresh water to the 30 000 affected households between Hibberdene and Ramsgate. Four major hospitals would get priority supplies

The municipality was getting emergency fresh water supplies via the Mtamvuna water treatment works near Port Edward. But this facility was battling to produce enough water to meet the extra demand from the Port Shepstone region.

As an emergency measure, Ugu had employed contractors to block off the uMzimkulu River about 10km upstream to prevent any further intrusion of saline water.

Once the berm was complete, river water would be pumped into the Bhoboyi reservoir to replenish the municipal water supply.

The municipality had also breached the river mouth in an attempt to drain out saline water near the estuary, but the mouth kept closing because of low water volumes.

“During this period, communities residing between Hibberdene and Ramsgate will be subjected to water with salt content from their taps.

“But the municipality will continuously monitor the water situation in an effort to ensure that water quality standard is not compromised,” the municipality said.

Some high-lying areas inland, including Gamalakhe and Murchison, would have no tap water at all because of high demand on the system.

Municipal authorities on the North coast are to meet National Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane on Wednesday to discuss emergency water supply plans in the iLembe District Municipality, which includes Ballito, Salt Rock, Sheffield Beach and Zimbali.

Ilembe mayor Welcome Ndabe warned that there was just 120 days’ supply of water left as the level of Hazelmere Dam continued to drop.

‘The problem is, we do not have enough water tankers. To date iLembe has spent more than R15 million on hiring water tankers.

‘This is costing us R6 000 a day for one water tanker. We are looking at a budget of no less than R300 million to buy our own,’ Ndabe said.

He said the municipality was also getting some water from Mandeni, but there were indications that the uThukela River was ‘steadily running dry’.

‘We are in the process of drilling boreholes where there is groundwater and doing tests to see if the water is fit for human consumption. Should it not be potable then we will look into purchasing treatment plants to avoid our people getting diseases and the like.

‘As things stand, iLembe District Municipality has enough water for about 120 days. It doesn’t look like the weather is about to change, so it is important that we save the little that we have to survive,’ he said.

Source:The Mercury- Tony Carnie

WATER CHAOS: Compensation – Don’t be silent!

Clean water supply and drainage of sewage is a service we pay. We have an agreement with the local water company – we pay their charges and expect them to carry out their service in accordance with the terms of their agreement with us (and additional requirement the law places on them). If something goes wrong with these services the disruption of our lives can be significant.

If you face a problem – whether it is over the charges or the service provided the first step is to contact their customer service help-line. If that does not resolve matters to your satisfaction, then you may find a formal complaint procedure. If that does not resolve the dispute, then you may have no option but to take matters further. Whether they will consider mediation or force you to take legal action or small claims service should be able to help you.

Water and sewage disputes

Sewage: If your property has been damaged by sewage you may be entitled to compensation to make good the damage or harm caused.

This would be through a claim against the Director General of Water Services because the water company responsible were negligent by failing to provide and maintain effective drainage. By not maintaining the drains resulting in overflowing sewage they fail in their legal duty of care to the people affected.

Poor water quality: The water company is responsible for the supply of water (up to the point that it connects with your pipes). If you or a visitor to your home becomes ill due to poor water quality being supplied, you should be entitled to compensation. This is usually a claim that the water company were negligent in failing to supply water of a reasonable quality – implying they should know that people drinking it might become ill.

Flooding: Where a water authority is responsible for flooding to your home, you might be entitled to compensation.

Proper water supply and drainage: Where you are a customer of a water company you have a contract with them. In exchange for you paying their charges they must provide a reasonable service. If the service is not reasonable (for example not maintaining the drains or not supplying good quality water) they have breached the terms of the contract. You have the right to demand it be put right and that they pay compensation for your losses and expenses.

What do you have to prove to bring a claim?

1: What damage or harm you have suffered:

This is best shown with photos and a detailed explanation (with relevant dates). Perhaps also collect statements (letters or emails) from other neighbours further providing details of the problems such as overflowing sewage.
2: Why it is the fault of the water company or authority:

Sometimes it will not be possible to say what they have done wrong, In which case you can argue that the damage would not have happened ‘but for’ the water company failing to meet it’s standards and their duty of care owed to you

Sometimes you will have to spend some money on getting an expert’s report to confirm it was the water company’s fault, such as an independent test on the quality of the water supply.

Photos may also support your claim – such as photos of blocked mains drains

3: If you have suffered losses and expenses you will need to show they were caused by the water company and that the amount you are claiming back is reasonable:

  • Photos of damaged property
  • Receipts to prove the cost of repairs or replacements
  • With injury and ill health, make sure you have seen your GP or hospital – so there is an independent record of your medical examination.

Basic services should be the responsibility of the government to plan and warn ahead of time.

Are you a Tendering Rogue?

Tendering rogues destroys our economy, mocks our justice system and should be charged for treason. The local Press is the best place to report corruption.

rebateAllocation of tendering areas are agreements in which tendering competitors divide markets among themselves. In such plans, competing companies allocate specific customer or type of customers, products, or territories among themselves. For example, one tenderer will be allowed to sell to, or tender on contracts let by, customers allocated to the other competitors. In other schemes, competitors agree to sell only to customers in certain geographic areas and refuse to sell to, or quote intentionally high prices to, customers in geographic areas allocated to conspirators companies.

However, in countries where corruption is a common problem it tends to disturb the market mechanisms and impede economic development. Corruption in public procurement makes the officials or the politicians in charge purchase goods or services from the best briber, instead of choosing the best price-quality combination. The result may be construction projects several times as costly as necessary, or the acquisition of goods not actually needed.

In 2013-14, for example in South Africa the public sector spent R500-billion on goods, services and construction. At least R30-billion of this was lost to corruption particularly related to tenders.

According to Andvig and Moene (1990), the negative dynamics can be explained as follows: When corruption is rare, the economy is in a “low- corruption-equilibrium”, in which both demand and supply is limited. Looking for someone to bribe is more risky when the bureaucrats hold high ethical standards. With increasing corruption levels, however, the request for bribes becomes easier, so does the proposal of bribes. The moral scruples of corruption as well as the risk of being caught, falls with a higher frequency of corrupt acts. This way corruption may lead the economy into a vicious circle, ending up in kleptocratic circumstances under which corruption is the standard, where honesty is too costly, with a general disregard of law and a higher level of criminal activity, and where each individual is busy making the most for him/herself, feeling no obligations for the country. The situation is often referred to as a corruption-trap. This self-propagating force of corruption may also explain parts of the difference in corruption levels sometimes experienced by quite similar economies. (Andvig and Moene, 1990; Søreide, 2000).

Corruption is rarely a one-sector phenomenon, occurring only in one institution of the state, or at one level of the bureaucratic hierarchy. Where it exists as a problem, it tends to pervade large parts of the state administration. The impairment of judicial systems, the police and investigative institutions are particularly destructive in this respect. Frequent failures to sanction and arrest perpetrators create a general disregard of existing laws. Trying to curb corruption by implementing anti-corruption measures into the procurement procedures can therefore appear optimistic in such a setting.

Corruption is rarely a one-sector phenomenon, occurring only in one institution of the state, or at one level of the bureaucratic hierarchy. Where it exists as a problem, it tends to pervade large parts of the state administration. The impairment of judicial systems, the police and investigative institutions are particularly destructive in this respect. Frequent failures to sanction and arrest perpetrators create a general disregard of existing laws. Trying to curb corruption by implementing anti-corruption measures into the procurement procedures can therefore appear optimistic in such a setting.

Reporting corruption

In many cases bribery is detectable only for the colleagues of a corrupt official. The cases difficult to observe for the police may be apparent for the associates. These can, for instance, discover unreasonable argumentation in favour of a certain company. Other people involved in the tender may also come across corruption. A way to report on the cases should therefore be established and published. A problem with anonymous “whistle-blowing”, however, is the risk of dishonest information reported in order to blacken certain persons and companies. Still, anonymous information has to be accepted to obtain knowledge about corruption from people fearing sanctions. In any case, the safety of persons revealing corruption scandals has to be considered.

When corruption is revealed the persons involved should be charged. Sanctions are therefore mainly a matter of the legal system. Either imposed by judges or the bureaucracy, the sanctions should, however, include a system of incentives in which the penalties for the corrupters grow more than proportionally to the price of the public contract.