Crucial to plan for water future

2008-04-01 00:00

"We need to know about the water requirements in an area — what is there and what is the demand," says DWAF’s senior specialist engineer water resource management, James Perkins. "We need to know this so that we do not run out of water; we’ve seen what happens if you run out of electricity."

Perkins was speaking at the opening of the second public meeting regarding the development of a Water Reconciliation Strategy (WRS) for the KZN coastal metropolitan area initiated by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) held in Durban on Monday.

The creation of a WRS was announced at the previous meeting in June last year.

Thereafter a study steering committee (SSC) was appointed, with members drawn from various stakeholder groups including municipalities, research institutions, industry, agriculture, commercial forestry, as well as the various relevant government departments.

The WRS study area stretches from the KZN north coast to the Mgeni System (including the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer) with a planned transfer of water to the south coast. The area includes portions of the uMgungundlovu, iLembe and Ugu District municipalities, the Msunduzi Municipality and the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality’s area of jurisdiction.

Earlier studies indicate that unless there is intervention, there simply won’t be enough water to meet the growing demand of the region. The WRS is intended to reconcile water requirements with the available water resources and to identify interventions for the period up to 2030.

This week’s meeting was a progress report on the work of the SSC to date. Niel van Wyk, DWAF’s project manager, explained that the study is a three-phase process. The first involved the collection and collation of information.

"We are now at the end of the second phase, which is to develop a first stage reconciliation strategy with firm medium-term measures and broad long-term interventions," Van Wyk said.

Presentations were made by a number of experts and there was also comment from the floor. All this will be incorporated into the third and final phase of the study, which will provide a second stage reconciliation strategy with refined long-term interventions. This must be in place by 2009.

Pieter van Rooyen of WRP Consulting Engineers presented six reconciliation scenarios from which various recommendations were drawn. "We need to do serious water conservation management," he said, "and implement early drought restrictions to make sure we don’t run out of water completely."

Other recommendations were that waste water management options be implemented; that Hazlemere Dam be raised and that the Mooi-Mgeni transfer scheme be implemented.

A third public meeting will be held later in the year. For further information check DWAF’s website: www.dwaf.gov.za.

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