10 June 2019

South Africa: After Four Years Willowfontein Has Running Water Again

Willowfontein residents in Pietermaritzburg, after four years, finally appear to have a regular supply of running water. Last week the municipality installed a new water pump.

Msunduzi Municipality Mayor Themba Njilo has blamed the lack of water supply on drought, which caused reservoir levels to drop to point where water could not be pumped.

The area has been dependent on water tankers for years. Affected locations included KwaPhupha, Soweto, Estobhini Esikhulu, Khuzwayo, Bulwer and Manyinyisa.

"The new pump has started to supply water in these areas since last week," Njilo said. He said there are few areas where the municipality has to fix blocked pipes before water can reach them. He committed to fixing the pipes this week.

GroundUp reported in January 2018 that the low level of water in Albert Falls dam, which supplies water to Pietermaritzburg and Durban, has caused many areas to experience water problems. Water pressure was reduced which caused Willowfontein, built on a hill, not to get water.

Sometimes school students have been sent home because of water shortages.

Most communal taps are now working.

"We are very happy," said resident Khuzwayo Zanele Zondi. She said it is a sigh of relief for the people of Willowfontein.

"One thing that is left is to fix blocked pipes. Some residents who need their pipes fixed still have a problem. They can't get water," she said. "We are hoping [the municipality] keeps its promise."

But she said that most residents are happy to have their water supply back.

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