R26 Billion Kwazulu-Natal Water Project Expedited  

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu, his deputy David Mahlobo and Umgeni-Uthukela Water officials during their visit to the Umkhomazi Water Project in eThekwini. The Department of Water and Sanitation has expedited the R26 billion water project to alleviate crippling water shortages in the area.

Kwazulu-Natal water utility Umgeni-Uthukela Water says it has expedited a R26 billion water project to alleviate crippling water shortages in the eThekwini Municipality and other parts of the province. 

Spokesperson Siyabonga Maphumulo says the Umkhomazi Dam project will solve the water crisis that has left millions of residents without the precious liquid for many years. 

Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu visited the Lower Umkhomazi Water Scheme project on Saturday, April 6, during his whirlwind tour of key infrastructure projects, including the Giyani Bulk Water Project in Limpopo. 

Like many nationwide, Kwazulu-Natal residents are battling a water crisis caused partly by ageing infrastructure, a lack of infrastructure investment and maintenance, and natural disasters like the recent floods. 

Maphumulo says the Umkhomazi Dam Project – comprising Upper Umkhomazi and Lower Umkhomazi – is expected to be completed in 2032. 

It will benefit various municipalities in Kwazulu-Natal, including eThekwini Metro, Harry Gwala and Ugu District Municipalities, and South Coast areas such as Amanzimtoti and Hibberdene. 

“We can confirm that we have already signed water use agreements with some of these mentioned municipalities. The intention being that, once the project is completed, they can begin to benefit from bulk water, which would evidently lead to water reticulation for households. You will appreciate that water, at present, is a big problem not only in KZN but also in the country in general. When the Umkhomazi Dam is completed, we expect that it will drastically take away some of the problems that are experienced by the municipalities. As minister Mchunu always says, our problem is that we just need to increase our water storage so that we then decrease runoff,” Maphumulo said. 

Construction is underway on the Lower Umkhomazi Water Project in eThekwini, Kwazulu-Natal. Upon completion in 2023, the Department of Water and Sanitation says the project will alleviate the province’s water shortage.

He acknowledged that ageing infrastructure and inadequate infrastructure investment contributed to the water shortage. 

“Once this project comes online, you can rightfully expect that millions of people who are currently out of the system will get water relief because if your households grow and you are not increasing your water infrastructure, you then have a problem. Once this dam comes into being, we will solve the problem of increased households, but there is no water infrastructure in the pipeline. So that is what Umgeni-Uthukela Water, working with others, is doing now to fast-track the completion of this dam,” Maphumulo added. 

According to the Department of Water and Sanitation, the project will increase the area’s water supply and stimulate economic growth. 

“Phase 1 of the scheme includes the construction of an off-channel storage dam and abstraction works, while Phase 2 of comprises a 100 M1/day water treatment works, a 3.5km gravity pipeline, extension of a quarry, and a Green Star administration building underscores our commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, ensuring that our actions today do not compromise the needs of future generations,” the department said. 

Earlier, Mchunu gave a progress report on the Umkhomazi Dam Project and others, worth more than R120 billion, which, upon completion, he said would improve the country’s water supply. The projects are in Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng. 

Mchunu said the Upper Mkomazi Dam project has been resuscitated after a nine-year delay. 

“We have gone through all the systems and processes. Even after nine years, we have now finalised everything. TCTA is busy with processes to get money to build that dam. It’s a big project, about R26 billion. I am trying to attract your attention that even though we can’t say we are beyond criticism, the South African government is pushing money towards infrastructure,” he said. 

Mchunu added that progress has been made in constructing phase two of the R40 billion Lesotho Highlands Project to apply water to Gauteng and a R24 billion Olifants River Water Resource Development Project to supply Polokwane in Limpopo.

According to the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Umkhomazi Water Scheme Project will increase Kwazulu-Natal’s water supply and stimulate economic growth. 

Moreover, the R10 billion project to revamp water systems in the Northern Cape and connect water from the Vaal River local municipalities was almost complete, while construction of the R8 billion Umzimvubu Dam in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, was underway.  

Mchunu said the walls of the Tzaneen Dam in Limpopo and the Clanwilliam Dam on the West Coast were being upgraded to improve supply in Polokwane and the surrounding areas. 

The project has also made substantial progress in supplying water from the Loskop Dam to Sekhukhune in Limpopo and Thembisile Hani in Mpumalanga. 

Despite the challenges facing his department, the minister said, “we are not sitting down and observing”. 

“That’s why today we talk about the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, a R40 billion project, which is now in phase two, on which there is dust and mud in the mountains there in Lesotho. I was there on Wednesday [March 17], we received a progress report on cost such that the project would catch up in order to make sure the integrated Vaal River system remains stable,” Mchunu said.  

“We have another project, which is the Olifants River Water Resource Development Project, where we are partnering with the mining sector. It’s R24 billion. They would bring  R12 billion, and we will put R12 billion. That’s the project that would guarantee availability of water in Polokwane, because that city needs to grow and of course, they are short of water. But they are short of water. But we are attending to it. We have already started, and we will be going there in April to monitor.”

Polokwane residents have been subjected to water rationing due to inadequate supply from the city and provincial water utility, Lepelle Northern Water (LNW). This has stifled the city’s growth and negatively affected residents and businesses. 

Bulk water pipes are being installed as part of Phase 1 of the Umkhomazi Water Scheme Project in Kwazulu-Natal.

Regarding the R8 billion Umzimvubu Dam project, Mchunu said the Ntabelanga area has been turned into “dust and mud”, just like the West Coast where Clanwilliam Dam is located. 

“If you doubt, I will give you navigation. Drive up to Tsolo, on your way to Mthatha, take a right, go there and look for Ntabelanga, you will find the road there that we have completed. [Construction of] that Dam has started. There is dust, there is mud there. We marked, we have done everything, we are going to start with the wall on both sides of the river, and finally to the river floors. So, this one is for real now. I am sure when President Cyril Ramaphosa reads his next State of the Nation, he won’t feel strained about Umzimvubu because he knows we are now there,” said Mchunu. 

“There is another one, R4 billion, raising the wall of the Clanwilliam Dam. All these projects I am talking about, there is dust and mud. If you doubt us, please go there. We are raising the wall on the West Coast. When we complete raising that wall, 13 metres up, the wall will be the same height as [the] Unisa building that you see in Pretoria. So those who say we are not building infrastructure, please go to Clanwilliam Dam. You will see.”



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