Berea residents are next in line for a reduction of water pressure as they comply with new pressure standards that are being implemented across the city by eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS). Work started in June this year with the installation of pressure reduction valves (PRVs) at strategic points and these will shortly be commissioned.
According to EWS head, Neil Macleod, Durban's water needs are climbing and the city is at constant risk of water shortages and water restrictions. Up until now, the water pressure in Durban has been high which has increased the probability of leaks and bursts. In order to minimise these and reduce the loss of the city's precious water, EWS began reducing water pressure in targeted areas in August 2009. Since then, water savings have topped 35 000 000 litres every day.
(See left: Pressure reduction valve installation on J B Marks Rd, Durban).
Simon Scruton, manager of the Non-Revenue Water Branch says the current average zone pressure of 560kpa for the entire municipal area will be reduced to 420kpa by June 2019. "Internationally, reducing pressure is regarded as one of the most effective means of lowering water losses. In the United Kingdom, the average pressure is already 420kpa and they are targeting a new average 296kpa". He says that in order to achieve long term leakage reduction goals this is ultimately where the eThekwini Municipality will be heading. The minimum pressure is currently 250kpa and this is sufficient to supply a six-storey or 18m-high building. An added plus is that very few residents even notice a difference when the water pressures are reduced.
Consumers who could experience a noticeable drop in pressure would probably be those living in older houses with outdated plumbing. Unfortunately, they will have to address this problem at their own expense. When it comes to taller buildings, water supply bylaws and national building regulations require the installation of pumps and roof tanks. Neil calls on property owners and Body Corporates to ensure that properties complied with these regulations so that residents would not be inconvenienced.
He points out that residents had unfortunately been misled into believing that higher pressures were good. In reality, they not only compromised municipal infrastructure but also reduced the life of their own pipes, tap washers and appliances.
(Right: Small Civil labourers assembling a zone divider installation in Alan Paton Rd, in Durban).
Apart from the expense of undertaking their own repairs, households also had to contend with water cuts when EWS was forced to carry out repairs. He emphasises that most appliances - including dishwashers, geysers, heat pumps and solar panels - would not be affected by pressure reduction.
Neil also reassures consumers that lower pressures do not equate to higher water bills. "By lowering pressure we don't limit the volume of water, just the rate at which is comes out of the tap. It is unlikely that the volume of water utilised by each household will change."
All residents will be notified of pressure reductions via street pole advertising and newspaper notices. Residents in high-rise buildings will receive either hand-delivered notices or notices by mail. These notices will be sent to the account holder and not the individual tenants.
"Every decision taken by EWS is ultimately for the benefit of our consumers. We will save a great deal of money by undertaking fewer repairs. This will ultimately be passed on to the consumer via lower than expected water tariff increases," he says..
He also calls on residents to help EWS keep water losses to a minimum by reporting bursts, leaks and even illegal connections.
Use the toll free number: 0801 313 013, email Eservices@dmws.durban.gov.za or send an SMS or use MXIT on the number 083 707 3013.
For more details contact:
Neil Macleod, Head of eThekwini Water and Sanitation on 031 311 8605 orr Simon Scruton, Manager Non-Revenue Water on 031 311 8744