The sustained economic growth prevalent in the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Metropolitan Area requires a supply of water that can not only keep up, but also encourage further growth and development. The KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Metropolitan area is the third largest contributor to the national economy and is the economic hub of KwaZulu-Natal. This area is experiencing rapid growth in water requirements because of the influx of people from the rural areas, economic growth, and development initiatives. Strategic planning is currently well underway to ensure the long-term, sustainable development of the available water resources to meet expected water requirements. Part of this planning process includes a Reconciliation Strategy for the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Metropolitan Area to address increasing water requirements in the region essential for sustained economic growth.
To plan for water related disasters an interconnected link is maintained between the Reconciliation Strategy and the System Operating Forums (SOFs). Valuable information obtained from the SOFs is used in long-term planning to maintain a balance in the system and minimise the risk of the impact of a drought event to an acceptable level.
The original Reconciliation Strategy Study was conducted between 2006 and 2009 The Reconciliation Strategy then underwent maintenance in the Continuation of the Reconciliation Strategy of the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Metropolitan Area: Phase 1 between 2009 and 2012. Phase 2 of the Continuation Study commenced in March 2014.
Area of supply
The Reconciliation Strategy study area encompasses the region that extends from the mouth of the Thukela River on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) North Coast to the uMkhomazi River on the South Coast and from Howick in the west to Durban in the east. It includes the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Msunduzi Local Municipality, as well as the uMgungundlovu, uMzinyathi, iLembe, Harry Gwala and Ugu District Municipalities (DMs).
See the Study Area tab for more detail on this region.
Sources of water
The central and southern portion of the Study Area is largely supplied with water from the Mgeni Water Supply System (WSS), including Midmar, Albert Falls, Nagle and Inanda dams on the uMngeni River. The area is also supplied by transfers from the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme (MMTS), including Mearns Weir (Phase 1) and the recently completed Spring Grove Dam (Phase 2). To the north, the area is supplied from the integrated Mdloti-Mvoti WSS which incorporates Hazelmere Dam.
Planning for the future
The Reconciliation Strategy envisages short-, medium- and long-term resource development projects to meet the expected water needs
The Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme implemented by Umgeni Water, which will abstract water from the Thukela River near Mandini, is now under construction and is expected to be completed by 2016. The scheme will augment the water supplies now available from the Mvoti River and from Hazelmere Dam on the Mdloti River for users along the North Coast of KZN. The raising of Hazelmere Dam commenced in July 2015 to increase the storage capacity of Hazelmere Dam, and hence the yield from that source, by 2018. Umgeni Water is already expanding their Hazelmere Water Treatment Works in anticipation of the increased availability of raw water at this source. These are good examples of cooperative governance in practice.
The desalination of seawater on the North Coast at Tongaat and on the South Coast near Illovo is considered to be a realistic additional source of potable water in the mediumterm, together with other options such as the direct re-use, after treatment to potable water standards, of effluent from urban areas.
The first phase of the proposed uMkhomazi Water Project (uMWP-1) appears to be the most attractive option for ensuring that the longer-term water needs of the region are satisfied. Initial estimates indicate that the uMWP-1, which includes the proposed Smithfield Dam on the uMkhomazi River, a 32.5 km long transfer tunnel and a balancing dam on the Mbangweni River, could be commissioned by 2023. Any delays in the commissioning of the uMWP-1 beyond 2023 will increase the necessity of developing other intervention options that can be implemented quickly (such as seawater desalination and/or re-use of water), perhaps at significant additional cost. The major uMWP-1 water resource development project would increase the availability of potable water in the region to satisfy expected water needs to beyond 2040.