Drought: KZN to implement desalination programme

2016-06-21 11:11
A sea of sand surrounds the jetty at Catalina Bay at on Lake St Lucia in iSimangaliso Wetland Park during a media tour that revealed the impact of the drought there.

A sea of sand surrounds the jetty at Catalina Bay at on Lake St Lucia in iSimangaliso Wetland Park during a media tour that revealed the impact of the drought there. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - As the current drought tightens its grip on the province, provincial government has said they are pushing ahead with a desalination programme for the province.

The provincial cabinet has established a water crisis task team comprising of Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube who will be the convener, Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana, Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Themba Mthembu and Finance MEC Belinda Scott.

This is in response to the prolonged drought in KZN since 2014.

In a statement from the provincial executive council, they said two declarations of drought had been made to date; the first in December 2014 and the second in December 2015 after all district municipalities were severely affected. “The South African Weather Services continues to advise that the likelihood of breaking through this heatwave scenario causing drought, is anticipated to be during the next spring season [in] September 2016.

“Drought is recurrent and KZN has not been prepared for drought and it is for this reason a desalination programme has been identified as one of the long-lasting solutions,” reads the statement from the executive council.

Currently 77% of the country’s water comes from surface water rivers, 14% comes from return water from water treatment plants and nine percent comes from ground water.

“A major priority is to diversify these sources given the high risk of water shortages in the short to medium term. A renewed focus on effluent treatment in inland areas and on desalination in coastal areas will be necessary to adequately diversify resources.”

The council also announced that the provincial department of Human Settlements had commissioned a probe to investigate irregularities in the allocation of RDP houses. The probe will be done by an institute linked to the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Maurice Webb Race Relations Institute.

The probe was initiated after claims that the allocation of low-cost housing in KZN was open to abuse and riddled with fraud and nepotism.

“It is alleged that houses are ­allocated to friends, relatives or political connections who do not qualify in terms of national allocations criteria. It is further alleged that houses are sold by councillors for personal gain.

“On the other hand councillors are allegedly allocating houses or taking possession of houses which they use to collect rentals from tenants for personal gain.

“In some instances members of the executive council have received complaints that more than one house is illegally allocated to one household or persons,” the council said.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  drought

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