Durban – The Department of Water and Sanitation has invested R352m in assisting KwaZulu-Natal to respond to the immediate challenges of water scarcity, it was revealed on Wednesday.Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Makonyane, who is on a fact-finding mission in KwaZulu-Natal visiting various sites which have been affected, said the provincial government declared in December 2014 that it was in a crisis.“The current drought has been identified as being the worst since 1992.”She said out of 14 Water Services Authorities in the province, currently four Water Services Authorities are adversely affected covering areas including the Lower South Coast, Illembe District Municipality, Richards Bay and the Umkhanyakude District Municipality. “Previously, the eThekwini and Amajuba municipal areas were not included in areas under water pressures, but a recent assessment has since dictated that drought alerts and relief efforts be directed to these two areas as well,” said Makonyane. Using water resources sparingly"We are encouraged that our people have taken seriously the call to conserve what we have and to use the available water resources sparingly.“Water is a scarce resource with no substitute and we must change our water use patterns if we are to preserve this resource and ensure supply meets demand.“We have witnessed a significant decline in the pace of water outflows from our dams since the water rationing commenced," she said.She said the drought in KwaZulu-Natal was due to low rainfall patterns and issues of climate change among other things."We have invested R352m to assist the province response to the immediate challenges of water scarcity.“These resources have been used to ensure boreholes are drilled, water is ferried to communities in need and innovative solutions are implemented to promote the efficient use of water in households."We are pleased to share that the Lower Tugela Water Scheme will be operational by June 2016 to supply the North Coast with water and ease current pressures," she said.As part of the mid-term solutions, the minister said, the Hazelmere Dam wall would be raised to increase its storage capacity.