Water: The key to life / Masonge amanzi / Pula a ene ka dipororo

Department of Water Affairs and Forestry / Directorate: Communication Services

Fax: (012) 324 6592      Tel: (012) 336 7500

Monday 1ST November 1999


The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Ronnie Kasrils, today approved the implementation of the first phase of the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme.

The Mgeni River is the major source of water for the Durban Pietermaritzburg region. With 4 major dams, the key one being the most upstream Midmar Dam, the river is already fully developed and there is no scope for further development within this catchment.

Water demand management and conservation measures are being implemented in the Mgeni supply system to reduce water requirements. These will continue in the future. On their own, however, these measures are not sufficient to meet the current and future water requirements of the region without facing the risk of serious water restrictions with resultant severe economic and social consequences. To avoid such risks, augmentation of the water supplies is urgently required. This can be done most timeously and cost effectively from the Mooi River by upgrading the existing Mooi-Mgeni Emergency Pumping Scheme, built during the 1982-85 drought. The project has been planned and will be implemented in close collaboration with Umgeni Water.

The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry therefore approved the construction of Phase 1 of the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme, comprising four components. Firstly, a new 8 m high diversion weir, at a different site to the existing 2m high Mearns Weir, will be built on the Mooi River near the town of Mooi River. Secondly, standby pumping capacity will be provided at the existing Mearns pumping station. Thirdly, the Midmar Dam on the Mgeni River near Howick will be raised by 3,5 m to effectively store water that will be pumped from the Mooi River. And finally, rights (servitude of aqueduct) will be obtained along the receiving streams in the Mgeni catchment. These measures will increase the yield of the Mgeni System by 25 million m3 per annum at a 99 % assurance of supply. The capital cost of the scheme, excluding VAT, is estimated at R 83,5 million.

The construction of Phase 1 of the transfer scheme will commence towards the end of the year 2000 and will be completed by the end of 2002.

Environmental Impact Assessments, with full public participation, have been undertaken for each component. These investigations have not identified any fatal environmental flaws. With the implementation of recommended impact management measures, the scheme will not result in any unacceptable impacts.

Contact: Dr Paul Roberts

Deputy-Director General: Development

(012) 336-8801