DA KZN:  Estimated R2billion needed to fix Midmar-related repair backlogs

Ann McDonnell, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Conservation and Environmental Affairs

It will cost Umgungundhlovu municipality an estimated R2 billion to deal with repair backlogs, including waste water treatment works, currently contributing towards pollution levels in streams feeding Midmar Dam, KZN’s main source of drinking water.

The information forms part of an August 2014 parliamentary reply by MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu, to questions submitted by the DA.

The acknowledged R2 billion to address repair backlogs is serious cause for alarm.

It shows exactly what happens when waste water treatment is not given priority during human settlement planning.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that this type of infrastructure is not as ‘vote catching’ as houses.

According to the same reply, Umgungundhlovu municipality ‘does not have this kind of money” and can only implement programmes on a systematic basis over the next 5 to 7 years.

This is simply not good enough.  KZN cannot afford to wait that long.  Nor can it afford either a drop in the quality or supply of water.

Equally alarming is the MEC’s own admission that ongoing pollution will see Midmar turn from a mesotrophic to a eutrophic dam by 2028, effectively meaning that massive amounts of plants and algae will cause bacteria, leading to almost all oxygen in the dam being consumed and ultimately choking fish to death.

The DA notes the recent establishment of the uMgungundlovu Technical committee for Water Quality.  We will carefully monitor reports on implementation of measures to protect KZN’s scarce and valuable water resources.  We also commend the planned re-commissioning of the Mpophomeni Waste Water Works within 3 years as well as education drives into local schools and communities in the area on the use of the system.  Hopefully it will not be a case of too little to late.

There can be no doubt that Midmar Dam requires a proactive, multi-departmental approach which must not be delayed.

The DA calls on KZN Premier, Senzo Mchunu, to act swiftly by forming a joint task team comprising the province’s COGTA, Public Works and Conservation departments which must get behind the Umgungundhlovu municipality and provide additional resources so that this looming disaster can be dealt with.