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Progress made on the Lower uMkhomazi water project

8th April 2024

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Good progress is being made on the implementation of the Lower uMkhomazi water scheme project, in KwaZulu-Natal, which is expected to be complete by December 2027, says Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu.

The project will augment raw water availability and meet the water supply demand of about 50 000 households on the South Coast within the municipal districts of eThekwini and Ugu.

The R20-billion Lower uMkhomazi bulk water supply project, with Umngeni-Uthugela Water as the implementing agent, is situated in the eThekwini metropolitan municipality and uMdoni local municipality.

“We are pleased by progress made by the contractor’s determination and the capacity which is demonstrated by being ahead with about 6% of the expected schedule. This project will augment water in the South Coast areas that have been experiencing water supply challenges for a long time. We are confident that the project will meet water supply demands in the area, even in the foreseeable future,” he said.

His comments followed an inspection of the construction sites along the uMkhomazi river by Mchunu and Deputy Ministers David Mahlobo and Judith Tshabalala, as well as the district's mayors and traditional leaders Inkosi Bele and Inkosi Mcadi.

The project, which was previously plagued by delays prior to Mchunu’s intervention, is divided into two phases.

The first phase comprises a raw water component with two independent systems, namely the Ngwadini system with off-channel storage and the Goodenough system with abstraction works and raw water storage reservoir.

Phase 2 entails a potable water component comprising 100-million-litres-a-day-capacity water treatment works; a 3.5 km gravity main pipeline to Quarry reservoir; the extension of the Quarry reservoir to a 30-million-litre capacity and the construction of a Green Star-accredited administration building.

The Lower uMkhomazi water scheme project forms part of the overall uMkhomazi water project, which includes the construction of an 81-m-high dam at Smithfield on the uMkhomazi river with gross storage capacity of 251-million cubic metres; a 33 km, 3.5-m-diameter tunnel from Smithfield dam to the uMlaza river valley; and a 5.1 km, 2.6-m-diameter gravity bulk pipeline connecting the tunnel to the Baynesfield water treatment works.

“This part of the project will be funded and implemented by the Trans-Caledon Water Authority, an entity of the Department of Water and Sanitation. The Umkhomazi water project will result in a 55% increase in the amount of available water in the uMngeni water supply system,” Mchunu added.

There will also be a balancing dam and a water treatment works in the uMlaza river with a gravity pipeline to the Umngeni water supply system which supplies water to more than five-million people in six districts, namely eThekwini, Msunduzi, uMgungundlovu, Ugu, Ilembe and Harry Gwala, and industries in the province.

Umgeni water supply system has experienced a water deficit from as far back as 2016, but its augmentation from the uMkhomazi Water Catchment is expected to increase fresh water supply from 394-million cubic metres a year to 608-million cubic metres a year.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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