Interventions to address water supply concerns in Kwazulu Natal Coastal areas
14 May 2012The Department of Water Affairs is pleased that water restrictions have been averted in the Kwazulu Natal Coastal Metropolitan areas due to the good rainfall late in the summer season that has ensured the major dams supplying the KZN coast remain full. A System Operation Committee, established to monitor the need for water restrictions in the area, concluded that the very short term water supply situation is not at risk at present but it will have to be monitored carefully as even a moderate drought may require water restrictions to manage this very stressed system until augmentation plans are implemented.
At its fourth meeting held in March 2012 the Strategy Steering Committee (SSC) for the Implementation and Maintenance of the Reconciliation Strategy for the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Metropolitan Area Water Supply System, reviewed and discussed the progress on the interventions recommended in the Strategy to ensure enough water for the area.
Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) has been identified as the first line of defense to deal with water shortages in the area. The current WC/WDM initiatives of the eThekwini, iLembe, Ugu and Msunduzi municipalities have already resulted in a significant saving of water in the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Metropolitan area.
WC/WDM however is only effective if it is maintained. Municipalities reported concern about funding available for WC/WDM. It was also highlighted that the implementation of WC/WDM measures is to a large degree dependent on a concerted team effort from all parties involved and especially the communities supported by the relevant city councils. Target savings in water losses can only be achieved through buy-in and support from all stakeholders.
The building of the Spring Grove Dam, although subject to day-to-day operational challenges, is progressing well and scheduled to deliver its first water by April 2013. Likewise, investigations by Umgeni Water on the planned Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply scheme to bring additional water from the Thukela River to the North Coast Area is well advanced and on track.
It was also reported at the meeting that recent technical issues related to the raising of Hazelmere Dam have come to light that could influence it as a water supply option. Since the development of the initial Reconciliation Strategy, the dam design team has identified geotechnical issues related to the stability of the raised Hazelmere Dam. This has resulted in an increase in the capital cost to raise the dam wall and an increase in the construction time.
This makes the raising of Hazelmere Dam economically less attractive and brings it closer to the more costly schemes, like increasing the capacity of the Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme, the re-use of water and desalination of sea water. A process is underway to assess the situation, and depending on the outcome this may impact on the viability of the dam raising option. Developments with regard to this will be reported upon as soon as there is more clarity on the situation.
A measure to address the water shortages over the medium term has included a feasibility study to investigate the use of treated domestic sewage effluent for direct use as potable water. The study being undertaken by eThekwini Metro is complete and is in the process of being taken into the public domain
through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process that has recently been announced through the local media. Up to now public interest in the project has been limited. The project is on track to deliver water by 2016, provided that no unforeseen challenges are encountered.
A further intervention strategy being considered by the SSC is the desalination of seawater. The potential of seawater desalination as a water supply option has already been investigated by Umgeni Water in a pre-feasibilty study completed in May 2009. This study showed that desalination of seawater
is technically and environmentally feasible and economically viable and Umgeni Water is currently taking it forward into a detailed feasibility study.
As a co-operative governance body, the SSC is achieving its objective of managing the implementation of the Reconciliation Strategy to ensure water availability and sustainability for the region over a 25-year moving planning horizon. The various stakeholders in the body understand the seriousness of the situation and are working together to ensure that the Strategy is updated and adjusted to meet the changing situation in the water supply and intervention actions.
Tel: 012 336 8250
Cell: 083 460 4482
Peter van Niekerk
Tel: 012 336 8762
Cell 082 807 4981
Tel: 012 336 8477
Cell: 082 805 9139
Issued by: Department of Water Affairs
14 May 2012
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