District’s R760 mln water and waste plan

2011-10-18 00:00

“WE aim to identify environmental management challenges and find possible solutions,” said Sibusiso Khuzwayo, municipal manager of the Umgungundlovu District Municipality (UMDM), who chaired last Friday’s meeting of the Umgungundlovu District Environmental Forum at the council chamber in Langalibalele Street.

The forum is a gathering of government and civil society organisations intended to bring together various players in the environmental sector to increase co-operation and co-ordinate action with a view to improving environmental management in the UMDM.

A key aspect of the forum is the creation of a strategic environment assessment (Sea) out of which will come a strategic environmental management plan for the municipality.

Kevin Zunkel of Isikhungosethu Environmental Consultants said the first “status quo” review of Sea should be available for public comment at the end of this month.

Various stakeholders were asked to identify and promote viable high impact projects.

Riaz Jogiat, UMDM acting manager, municipal functions, said R760 million will be available in the next three years for funding new projects with a variety of partners, including the Netherlands government.

Jogiat led the main session and spoke of a feasibility study for the new Mpophomeni waste water works due at the end of this month, for which R100 million has been budgeted over three years.

Another focus is the New England landfill site for which R14 million has been secured from the Department of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) to build a material recovery facility that will be run by six co-ops employing 200 people. This will effectively formalise the current situation, which sees hundreds of people picking over the landfill site for recyclables to sell.

The municipality generates R80 million a year in recyclable waste, said Jogiat, and creating such a facility would also have implications for the life of the site.

“There are only eight years left for the New England landfill site and it will cost R40 million to close it down and from R100 to R160 million to start up a new one.”

Cogta has also granted R7 million to establish an organic water treatment facility within the Msunsduzi Municipality.

Royal Nzuza, UMDM water compliance officer, gave a water quality report, which states that water quality is 96,3% and waste water treatment 90%. “We still have a lot to do to meet water affairs requirements,” he said.

Daniel Bailey of Built Environment Support Group (BESG) said a household opting for solar energy would pay an estimated R38 880, compared to R72 000 on the electricity grid over 10 years.

Other speakers were Mark Dent, of UKZN’s Centre for Environment Agriculture and Development, on the importance of catchment management forums, Carl Uys on the work of the Pietermaritzburg chapter of Earth Organisation and Ntombifuthi Mthimkhulu of the SA National Biodiversity Institute on progress in eradicating alien plants.

Khuzwayo said a meeting scheduled for February 24, 2012, will be used to monitor and evaluate progress. “By that meeting we will have gone a long way in terms of responding to the critical challenges.”

In November 2012 there will be an evaluation of the forum itself.

“Is it making a difference or is it a talk shop?” If the latter, Khuzwayo said, it would be closed down, but he was clearly upbeat about the forum’s future, “We want to get our hands dirty.”

• feature1@witness.co.za

 

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