File picture: Ahmad Masood
Durban - PARTS of KwaZulu-Natal are still drought-stricken and urgent interventions, including water restrictions, are needed to mitigate an impending crisis.

This was according to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube yesterday.

“The recent rainfall has created a false impression that the drought we experienced from 2015 is over. Our dams have not been replenished to their pre-drought levels and the danger of running out of water is still very real,” she said.

Dube-Ncube said if the drought persists, the province will have no choice but to impose water restrictions.

She said uThukela District Municipality - which incorporates towns including Ladysmith, Bergville, Estcourt and Dundee - was the hardest hit by the drought, although it was also the district hit hardest by last weekend’s storms in the province.

The challenges being faced by Alfred Duma Municipality, which falls in the uThukela district, were that boreholes were drying up and the Oliphantskop Dam had also dried up, which would result in the shutdown of the water treatment works in the next few days, said Dube-Ncube.

“Businesses in Ladysmith were also severely affected, which has resulted in businesses operating on a short-time basis. This affects the economic growth of Ladysmith as well as employment,” she said.

Ageing infrastructure was another issue that was frustrating Cogta’s fight against the drought, said Dube-Ncube.

She said it had engaged various business chambers on how to mitigate the impact of the drought.

Jabulani Mkhonza, communications manager at uThukela District Municipality, said it had already engaged in a number of initiatives which included water restrictions at certain times of the day in various areas. He said it was also planning to implement fines of R2500 to R10000 for people who wasted water. It was also using trucks to deliver water to tanks in the rural areas.

There were challenges though, Mkhonza said. The municipality had put in large water tanks to give people better access, but they had been stolen or vandalised. This was particularly sad as it was the community who should be taking care of the tanks.

New boreholes were being drilled and existing units were being revamped, Mkhonza said.

Businesses also had to play their role, he said. They had forced high water consumption businesses like car washes to operate three times a week, he said. Despite their protests that this was killing their businesses, some had cut down their consumption and started to use recycled water and water tanks, he said.

Mdu Dlamini, spokesperson for uMkhanyakude District Municipality, said it had been hit hard by the drought which had persisted for a long time.

“Even though we get rains, it is not enough to ensure that everyone gets water.

“If you look at Jozini Dam, its water level has decreased substantially over the years.”

Just like uThukela District Municipality, Dlamini said uMkhanyakude had decided to extract borehole water, but this was a costly exercise. He asked for the help of Premier Willies Mchunu with the associated costs.

“uMkhanyakude is government dependent. Our people are poor and have no jobs; we cannot charge them money for water. We rely a lot on tourism for our revenue and this drought has affected this town’s main source of income.”

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