Relief for water crisis

2015-02-05 00:00

DISTRICT municipalities, tasked with supplying water to households across the province, are expected to begin rolling out emergency water provision ­procedures immediately.

The nine most affected districts, which netted R352 million in disaster ­relief funding this week, will be spending the money on a variety of emergency tasks, varying from the enlargement of dams to providing security for the province’s various springs.

Detailed in a confidential Drought ­Recovery Plan for 2015 is a wish list ­outlining how much the various districts and the agricultural sector need for relief, totalling R669 million.

However, only R352 million has been made available so far, with attempts being to source the outstanding R337,9 million from the National Treasury.

According to the plan, the KZN ­Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs would create a special “Disaster Relief Account” and the Provincial Disaster Management Centre would “facilitate the implementation of the recovery programme”.

“It is envisaged that the programme shall be implemented for a period of six months,” said the document.

It states there will be strict payment controls requiring a “portfolio of evidence” before payments will be made.

Key among the findings in the report was that 80% of all boreholes in the province were dry and that the drought was the reason for “service delivery ­protests”.

“The dry conditions have increased the province’s susceptibility to runaway veld fires, hence the recent fatal fire ­incidents in various areas.

“Affected municipalities and farming communities have exhausted their ­contingencies to deal with the drought. Service delivery protests have been staged owing to water shortages in ­various areas, and have created serious governance and political issues.”

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THE water shortage in KwaZulu-Natal is not man-made, says the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the below-average rainfall received over the months of December and January led to the “dire situation of drying rivers and less groundwater available”.

“The searing heat and heatwaves have also not helped. The department is working with the province and municipalities to try to alleviate the situation.”

Ratau said all avenues are being explored, including desalination.

“We must, in the same vein, understand that some of the responses may not be implemented immediately, but over a while. What is critical is for all to know is that within its mandate, the department will continue to look into all means that could bring the necessary relief.”

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