KZN premier Sihle Zikalala unveils master plan to provide a sustainable supply of water throughout the province
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DURBAN - THE KwaZulu-Natal province said it would need about R150 billion in the next 10 to 15 years if it was to have a sustainable water supply throughout the province.
This was revealed when the provincial government’s Water Master Plan was launched yesterday. At the event, Premier Sihle Zikalala also launched the borehole intervention programme in the Harry Gwala District Municipality.
The premier said boreholes were part of efforts to eradicate poverty in the district and the province, adding that since February the province had stepped up emergency water provision with the use of boreholes and static tanks in targeted municipalities as a short-term intervention.
The projects that have been undertaken by provincial government include:
♦ A R500 million uMshwathi Bulk Water Scheme in November 2020.
♦ A R3bn Lower uMkhomazi Bulk Water Supply Scheme, Umgeni Water to be completed in 2023.
♦ A R1bn Cwabeni Project, which will be completed in 2022.
♦ The R1bn Stephen Dlamini Dam.
♦ The R23bn uMkhomazi Water Project which will be the largest water transfer scheme in South Africa.
Zikalala said the Water Master Plan was a blueprint for the medium- to short-term planning and delivery of water infrastructure in the province and appealed to businesses to assist the government with the ambitious plan.
“While the government is expected to fund the development of our water resources and infrastructure, we believe that there is a big role for business to play to ensure that we achieve water security for all the people of KwaZulu-Natal.”
He noted that climate change had increased the threat of water insecurity as more regions become arid or semi-arid.
“Research also shows that around 77% of rural households are indigent or entitled to free basic water, which places a strain on municipalities with a low revenue base. Provision of water through water tanks remains a costly substitute solution for permanent water infrastructure and it places burdens on finances,” said Zikalala.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka said the Provincial Water Master Plan initiated by Zikalala in 2019, had been a multiple stakeholder process which included the KZN Provincial Planning Commission, Department of Water and Sanitation, Umgeni Water and his department.
The province said it had worked with various stakeholders pooling expertise in formulating ways to implement the ambitious plan, and had conducted a comprehensive audit of existing water resources and challenges, and outlined workable solutions for the water needs to be addressed by 2030-2035.
Hlomuka said equitable water access had been declared a top priority by the current administration and the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of sustainable access to potable water in communities.
Cogta said the Master Plan contained a detailed analysis of the level of access and available water services in each ward in the province and an evaluation of the demand and future trends, including the estimates of projected and future demand (up to 2050).
The Master Plan also spelled out KZN’s water-related challenges and outlined the short, medium and longterm solutions together with the funding required to address the backlogs.
Zikalala said as part of the medium-term measures the province, through Cogta, had built 250 boreholes across the six districts which had the greatest challenges with water provision: uThukela, Zululand, uMzinyathi, Harry Gwala, uMkhanyakude and Amajuba.
Hlomuka said the planning marked an important milestone in the province’s efforts to bring water closer to communities and businesses.
The proposed interventions amounted to over R150bn in investment over the next 10-15 years, and the implementation of this at present relies almost solely on funding from National Treasury.
“New infrastructure is being constructed while existing infrastructure is being neglected and becoming derelict and in essence increasing the backlog indirectly. National fiscus needs to be reconfigured to allow ring-fenced funding for the operations and maintenance of existing infrastructure. We need to protect the infrastructure we have already invested so much capital in implementing.”
Professor Anthony Turton, from the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State, said the provincial water problem could not only be dealt with through surface water access, it needed to look at new technologies.
Turton said: “Government needs to further explore sea water desalination and sewage water recycling as other alternatives to increase water supply.”