KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala
Durban - With KwaZulu-Natal gripped by a water crisis, Premier Sihle Zikalala announced a string of interventions, including the rerouting of rivers into small dams, drilling more boreholes and the scrapping of privately owned water tanks, to address the emergency.

Addressing the media on the sidelines of a specially convened extended executive council meeting attended by the province’s MECs, mayors, water boards and experts, Zikalala said the provincial government was not oblivious to the water challenges affecting the country and province.

He said the level of the province’s big dams at the beginning of November sat at 53%, 5% lower than at the same time last year.

“The supply of dams in the Umgeni water systems is around 58%. The second largest supply system, uMhlathuze which covers Richards Bay, uPhongolo and Empangeni, has dams sitting at a 40% level.

“Water restrictions are still there and we are emphasising that, domestic use should be 20%, agricultural use at 25% and industrial use at 7%,” said Zikalala.

He said they were working on fast-tracking the construction of large scale bulk infrastructure projects, including ensuring that a wall and more capacity was built at the Hazelmere Dam. This construction was expected to be completed by December 2020.

“We are now going to terminate the use of private suppliers when it comes to water tankers, but will depend on that infrastructure and equipment that is provided by the provincial government’s Operation Khawuleza,” said Zikalala.

He said the gathering of minds immersed in the water value chain was aimed at designing relevant interventions to improve the supply and management of water.

He added that they had given a directive to all their deployees to ensure that they consolidate a master plan for the province which covered all areas and identified all challenges in order to make interventions.

He added the spring rains had seen most areas of the province receiving decent rainfall in the second week of November.

The rainfall, Zikalala said, brought relief to a number of areas where rivers had been filled up.

“Although the rain has brought some much-needed relief we cannot run away from the fact that some areas are still affected by water shortages and in some areas rivers are still not supplying enough water to the people,” Zikalala said.

He said the recent rainfall had seen some small dams being filled in various parts of the province.

“Our strategic intervention is to ensure that, among others, we look on diversifying sources of water. This means getting ground water and ensuring that the groundwater is processed, but it also means utilising rivers by trying to channel them into dams so that we don’t suffer in the long term and ensure that dams are always filled up,” said Zikalala.

Politics Bureau