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The environment constantly undergoes multiple changes, changes that are occurring over different temporal and spatial scales. As a result, it is vital that natural resources are managed in a sustainable manner. Adequate supplies of raw water resources are paramount to uMngeni-uThukela Water, which together with reliable sources of energy, water treatment chemicals and other resources are crucial for sustainability of the water business.

The entity, therefore, is steadfast in protecting, conserving and using and sustaining these resources efficiently.

Environmental management programmes and plans are embedded in all components of the water business lifecycle, namely, during planning, construction, operation and decommissioning. UMngeni-uThukela Water has classified its environmental management programmes as Corporate,

Operational or Integrated Environmental Management:

  • Corporate Environmental Management focuses on aligning the business activities to environmental sustainability and promoting a shift towards the state of a green economy;
  • Integrated Environmental Management focuses on identification, mitigation and implementation of management plans for potential environmental impacts associated with infrastructure developments.

uMngeni-uThukela Water, as a public water services entity in South Africa, complies with all mandatory environmental disclosure requirements. Notwithstanding this, the entity continues to improve alignment of environmental indicators with other national and internationally accepted indicator disclosure requirements, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
and King IV Report on Corporate Governance, in terms of materiality and relevance. Relevant aspects include materials, including chemicals and water resources, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprint mapping, biodiversity and waste management.


uMngeni uThukela Water leverages water sector partnerships and collaborations to respond to the challenges facing the region including water availability, redistribution, demand management and drought and impact of climate change. Its core business function is to treat and supply bulk potable water – a business highly dependent on the availability of sustainable water resources. The reconciliation between water resource availability and water demand is, therefore, of primary importance to the entity and forms an integral part of the infrastructure planning process. Understanding what water resources are available to the entity, both current and future resources, and what factors affect the assurance level of these resources is crucial to balancing supply with customer demand and maintaining supply sustainability into the future. The primary water sources used by the entity is distributed across four major water resource systems, namely, the Mgeni System (Mooi and Mgeni rivers), the North Coast System (uMdloti, iMvutshane, uThukela and uMvoti rivers) and the South Coast System (Nungwane, Mzimayi, uMuziwezinto and Mhlabatshane rivers). Total water withdrawal by source is shown in Figure 1. In addition, UUW is currently installing equipment to monitor the water resources in the KCDM area as this installation will enable efficient management of the water resources in the area.

In the reporting period, progress was made with the following water resource dam developments:

  • The feasibility study of Smithfi eld Dam (DWS) which is Phase 1 of the uMkhomazi Water Project, was completed in 2015 and construction is anticipated to be completed by 2030;
  • Hazelmere Dam raising (DWS) for which construction is expected to be completed in 2022;
  • The detailed design of Ngwadini Dam (UW) which is part of the Lower uMkhomazi Scheme, was completed in 2021, with construction completion planned for 2025.


The natural climate is the prime determinant of water resources availability, whether surface or groundwater. Sufficient water that is fit for purpose is key to the business of uMngeni uThukela Water. During the year under review, uMngeni uThukela Water implemented the organisational Climate Change Response Policy. The main purpose of the policy is to provide a framework for Umgeni Water’s just transition to a climate resilient and lower carbon water entity. The objectives of the policy are to:
  • Provide a co-ordinated and integrated Umgeni Water response to Climate Change and its impacts on all aspects of the water value chain;
  • Manage climate change impacts effectively through implementing interventions that reduce the organisation’s vulnerability, build its resilience and adaptive capacity to the impacts of climate change; and
  • Assist Umgeni Water contribute fairly to the global efforts to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions to a level that avoids anthropogenic interference with the climate system and enables sustainable development.
During 2022/2023 a climate change implementation plan was implemented. This plan is integrated to the overarching uMngeni uThukela Water sustainability implementation plan. The plan incorporates targets for both mitigation and adaptation responses, where the mitigation targets are aimed at reducing the organisation’s greenhouse gas emission, while the adaptation initiatives responds directly to water resource sustainability and are aimed at buiding the organisation’s adaptive capaticy and resilience to the impacts of climate change which includes reduced streamflow, wet spells, dry spells, poor water quality and degraded ecological infrastructure. The climate mitigation interventions that were implemented during the period under review included carbon emissions reduction related practices such as monitoring energy usage, water usage, undertaking a feasibility study for the solar power insallation at 7 uMngeni uThukela Water sites; undertaking a feasibility study for the Darvill WWTWs co-generation; appointment of service provider to undertake detailed feasibility of the Mpofana Hydropower installation; and implementation of ecological infrastructure interventions that have benefts for climate regulation and carbon sequestration.

The implemented adapatation interventions on the other hand, included the monitoring drought paramaters; monitoring of flood parameters; development and implementation of an annual flood drill plan; issuing of flood early warnings to various operational sites; communication of weekly waer resource status updates on various digital media plartforms; installation of automated river level monitoring equipments at various sites; setting up of a hydronet subscription for hydro alerts and maps that will be integrated into the flood forecasing and early warning system; calibration of hydraulic model for the flood forecasting and early warning system; setting up of a web-based dashboard for viewing the flood early warning system by external users; development and implementation of water safety plans for water quality management; implementation of catchment management and ecological infrastructure interventions that support water quality enhancement and sustainable water supply. In terms of climate change related stakeholder engagement, during 2022/2023, Umgeni Water actively participated at the KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Committee quarterly meetings that are chaired by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs who is the regurator for climate change in SA. On 22 June 2022, a roadshow to workshop the Climate Change Response Policy and implementation plan was convened at Umgeni Water. Furthermore, in June 2023 uMngeni uThukela Water was featured in a documentary for the uMngeni uThukela Water Resilience Project for leading the development and implementation of the uMgungundlovu Flood Forecasting and Early Warning System. uMngeni uThukela Water also participated in the Climate Change Resilience Indaba that was held from 7 to 9 June 2023, where the UMDM flood forecasting and early warning system case study was presented.


uMngeni uThukela Water is piloting a reuse plant at its Darvill Wastewater Treatment Works. The 2 Ml/d direct reuse demonstration plant comprises a conventional water treatment works to provide high-pressure wash water followed by an advanced treatment process plant. The plant is to be used for evaluating the effectiveness of reuse processes and for demonstration to communities on the benefits of wastewater reuse to applicable potable water standards.


The status of raw water quality per resource is shown in Table 11.1 and Figure 11.2. Water quality risks in uMngeni-uThukela Water supply catchments arise from factors including: eutrophication (nutrient enrichment and its associated threats including algal blooms, taste and odours and aquatic weed infestations), faecal contamination and associated pathogen risks, suspended solids and chemical constituents (including iron and manganese). This impacts on treatability, chemical usage and other cost implications, and may contribute to final water non-compliance with the South African National Standard Drinking Water specifi cation (SANS 241: 2015).

Source and raw water quality monitoring is undertaken to assess and mitigate treatability risks, optimise raw water quality and provide early warning of adverse raw water quality that can be expected at the water treatment works.

Catchment water quality management plans include:

  • Monitoring of water resource quality to assess raw water treatability;
  • Assessing risks associated with deteriorating trends in eutrophication, chemical contamination, pathogens and turbidity;
  • Engaging in catchment management activities to influence resource quality and quantity objectives that will balance environmental objectives and safeguarding consumer health;
  • Monitoring and improving the quality of waste discharges from operational sites.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as the custodian of South Africa’s water resources, is kept informed of the quality, trends and potential risks associated with raw water resources.


In response to the water quality issues highlighted under the raw water quality section, the table blow, lists the unterventions that are currently being implemented to improve the raw water quality at catchment level.


uMngeni-uThukela Water strives to use the water abstracted from resources assiduously. Water balancing and water loss management measures are in place per treatment system. Overall, water loss levels have been maintained below the entity’s target level of 5% over the years. Water loss trends are shown below:


Water is the most significant input material for uMngeni-uThukela Water, as described in the previous section, followed by energy, which is discussed below. In addition, uMngeni-uThukela Water has a high reliance on water treatment chemical resources and is, therefore, committed to improving the usage efficiency thereof.

The chemical usage trend for the past five years presented in Figure 11.4. During the current assessment period, uMngeni uThukela Water utilised a total of 11.3 million kg of water treatment chemicals. There is an increase observed in the chemical usage as compared to the previous year.  The reasons for the increase in the chemical use amount could be due to the treatment of high volumes of raw water with unsatisfactory quality associated with heavy rains, catchment activities and the operation of additional
plants. Furthermore, the increase in operational footprint. Water treatment chemicals were used to ensure that the quality of potable water was of acceptable standard and that the quality was maintained to the point of use.

uMngeni uThukela Water has implemented various initiatives to optimise the use of water treatment chemicals. These include:

  • Testing the effectiveness of water treatment chemicals for each raw water system / plant. This informs the selection of the optimal treatment chemical and therefore prevents inefficiency / unnecessary usage;
  • Monthly chemical optimisation audits to ensure that optimal use of treatment chemicals is maintained and to facilitate a prompt response should a problem be identifi ed through the monthly sampling;
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the water treatments process per plant, which identifies areas of process improvement and operational efficiency;
  • Monitoring and assessing seasonal variation of the water column / dam levels to assess levels with optimal raw water quality;
  • Participating in catchment management activities and forums and contributing to the information base, including provision of water quality data. This infl uences decisions on catchment land use activities and more sustainable development.


Carbon footprint can be described as the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents or CO2 e) for which an organisation or site is responsible for or has control over, resulting from business activities. The entity’s carbon emissions are shown in Figure 11.5. Umgeni Water wants to take full ownership of all emissions that it can control, influence and reduce. Scope 1 emissions refer to direct emissions that Umgeni Water can control, whereas scope 2 and 3 emissions are indirect emissions controlled by third party organisations. Table 11.2 shows the GHG Emissions for scopes 1, 2 and 3. Umgeni Water’s direct CO2 emission (Scope 1) contributions emanate mainly from vehicles, boats, generators and methane production from anaerobic wastewater treatment process (Figure 11.5). processes. (Table 11.2).


uMngeni-uThukela Water’s objective of greening its operational and future infrastructure is driven and supported by its desire to move its business activities towards sustainable development. Green buildings not only reduce or eliminate negative impacts on the environment, by using less water, energy or natural resources, but may also have a positive impact on the environment by generating their own energy or by increasing biodiversity. Key drivers of the need for green building include climate change, energy, water security, waste reduction, healthy working environments and biodiversity, amongst others.

uMngeni-uThukela Water’s journey began with a Feasibility Study that focussed on assessing operational sites in line with the Green Building Council of South Africa Existing Building Performance Tool. The assessments presented green building strategies/recommendations, organized into the Water, Energy and Waste categories that uMngeni-uThukela Water can take forward to expand green building practices. As a water utility, uMngeni-uThukela Water can play a significant role in the green building sector through its comprehensive Capital Expenditure Programme which involves the provision of vital infrastructure required to enhance assurance of water supply. uMngeni-uThukela Water is currently developing policies and plans that will facilitate the adoption of green building principles and construction techniques into all types of future eligible developments.


uMngeni-uThukela Water is in the process of investigating and implementing initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint. The main initiative that is proposed for implementation is the development of an electricity cogeneration plant at Darvill WWTW that will utilise the methane produced at this plant to produce electricity. Preliminary studies indicate that energy produced from this system can reduce the Darvill WWTW’s energy demand by approximately 40%. Other initiatives to reduce and offset the organisation’s emissions form part of the Organisation’s Environmental Sustainability Plan.


uMngeni-uThukela Water’s objective of greening its operational and future infrastructure is driven and supported by its desire to shift towards environmental sustainability. Green buildings not only reduce or eliminate negative impacts on the environment by using less water, energy or natural resources, but may also have a positive impact on the environment by generating their own energy or by increasing biodiversity. Key drivers of the need for green building include climate change, energy, water security, waste reduction, healthy working environments and biodiversity.

As a water utility, uMngeni-uThukela Water can play a significant role in the green building sector through its comprehensive Capital Expenditure Programme, which involves the provision of vital infrastructure required to enhance assurance of water supply. Therefore, uMngeni-uThukela Water has since developed a Green Building Policy with the following objectives:

  • To facilitate the adoption of Green Buildings principles and construction techniques into all types of development;
  • To influence development to achieve improved sustainable outcomes;
  • To advocate for a more sustainable approach;
  • To demonstrate leadership in commitments to sustainable development.

This policy will provide a framework to structure the approach to achieving sustainable design outcomes, commitment and minimum requirements for its implementation.

One of the projects that have been identified for Green Star Certification is the Lower uMkomaas Bulk Water Supply Scheme which is a scheme that will serve eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality and Ugu District Municipality. The planned infrastructure comprises the raw water infrastructure and the bulk water treatment works. The administration building situated at the water treatment works is earmarked for certification.


In 2019 uMngeni-uThukela Water Executive Committee and Board identified the deterioration in the quality of catchment water resources and the associate impacts of climate change as a
key strategic risk. This deterioration impacts on the quality and quantity of raw water resources which are paramount to uMngeni-uThukela Water’s core business of sustainable water supply.

Implications include supply limitation, high water treatment costs, high infrastructure design costs, decreased affordability by customers, non-payment for water services by customers and several other risks. The source of the problem of poor catchment health stems from several factors including, poor land use management practices, poor mindset and behaviour of water users towards water resources, lack of pollution reduction/prevention from source, lack of coordination of water resource management at catchment level, lack of compliance and enforcement by authorities, lack of institutional capacity within the governmental departments that are mandated for environmental and water resource protection and lack of integration between water users/stakeholders.

These issues are a symptom of a failure of traditional water resource management approaches in which water resource management was highly centralised and did not encourage a holistic approach to water resource management where there is:

  • participation of all water users/stakeholders including communities in water resource management decision making.
  • coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources to maximise socio-economic welfare without compromising the sustainability of vital ecological infrastructure and the associated ecosystem services
  • every water user is responsible for managing their water use and prevent/minimise/treats pollution at source.

In response to the serious and urgent challenge of deterioration of catchment health, uMngeni-uThukela Water established a Catchment Management unit within its scientific Services Division in 2019. The primary mandate of the unit/department is to work with other stakeholders (internal and external) mitigate catchment health and climate change risk through adopting a holistic and integrated approach to catchment or water resource management. This will be ensured through:

  • Undertaking catchment and land use impact assessments on water resources to understand sources of pollution and impact of different water users/land users.
  • Establishing strategic partnerships and collaborations with key stakeholders and water users including the Department of Water and Sanitation; Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (Natural Resource Management); Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental affairs; Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Land Care); Department of Science and Innovation; South African National Biodiversity Institute Water user associations; Irrigation Boards; Farmers; Catchment Management Forums; Non-governmental Organisations, private sector, research institutions and local communities to ensure integrated catchment management and treatment of problems from source.
  • In collaboration with stakeholders, developing and implementing catchment management and ecological infrastructure restoration and management plans for raw water quality enhancement; wetland restoration and management; aquatic weeds management; soil erosion restoration and grassland rehabilitation; terrestrial alien invasive plant management; flood management; catchment water quality modelling; catchment monitoring and management using citizen science, satellite remote sensing and drone innovation.
  • Adopting a community and ecosystems based approach to catchment management and ecological infrastructure restoration, where communities are empowered to participate in water resource protection and restoration through the implementation of catchment health and ecological infrastructure interventions and at the same time get employment opportunities to support their livelihoods and contribute to poverty eradication. This approach also ensures awareness and education
  • Supplementing built up or grey infrastructure with ecological infrastructure interventions i.e. rehabilitation of wetlands and grasslands upstream of water supply dams and rehabilitation of wetlands and construction of artificial wetlands downstream wastewater treatment plants to enhance water quality and improve response to heavy rainfalls and extreme weather events.
  • Active participation at catchment management forums and other stakeholder engagement platforms for water resource management to discuss water resource management issues, understand spatial distribution of water resource management challenges, understand what interventions are required, who is implementing what and where, identify opportunities for collaboration to expand the scale of interventions, share costs, avoid duplication, maximise benefits and mitigate trade-off, to influence prioritisation of interventions so that, strategic water resources are priotised for water, resource protection and water quality enhancement, and encourage great effort of other stakeholders and identify opportunities to support where possible.
  • Undertaking research on what other water utilities locally and globally are doing to mitigate catchment health risk and draw lessons for the purpose on enhancing our response.
  • Influencing development and implantation of water resource management related policy and legislation.
  • Support authorities strengthen their policy implementation and compliance and enforcement regulatory roles on water resource management and environmental management.
  • Support the Department of Water and Sanitation implement sector reforms that were realised in the National Water Act to enable integrated water resource management.

The catchment management initiatives undertaken by uMngeni-uThukela Water during the 2021/2022 period.


Catchment Assessments and landuse assessments are an essential tool in assisting uMngeni-uThukela Water catchment managers target their resources and select and implement the right measures in the right places. catchment assessments assist in providing answers to the following questions:

  • What exactly is causing the unsatisfactory or poor water quality in the downstream rivers and dams i.e. elevated turbidity, nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonium, or a combination causing the impact
  • Where, when and how exactly are the issues arising?
  • What is the particular land use or water use activity responsible for those impacts?
  • How can the problem be resolved?
  • What strategies and measures are available?
  • If the above is still not clear, what further assessments and specialist input is required?

The following catchment assessments were undertaken during the period under review:

  • Inanda catchment assessment
  • Albert Falls – Nagle Dam catchment assessment
  • Nungwane catchment assessment
  • Imvusthane catchment assessment
  • Mthwalume catchment assessment
  • Midmar catchment assessment
  • Mooi catchment assessment
  • Lower Thukela catchment assessment
  • Umzinto – Mzimayi catchment assessment
  • Mahlabatshane catchment assessment and
  • Home Farm Dam catchment assessment

Overall outcomes of the catchment assessments indicated that the main land use and water uses types that affects catchment health within uMngeni-uThukela Water area of operation include discharges from waterwater treatment works, discharges from poorly maintained sewer infrastructure (sewer leaks, blocked and surcharging manholes), nutrient inputs from intensive agricultural runoff, poor solid waste management, terrestrial and aquatic alien invasive plant infestation, poor mindset and behaviour of water users towards water resources, ecological infrastructure transformation to agricultural lands, land degradation, poor development and spatial planning, chemical spillages from industries, location of sewer infrastructure i.e. pump stations in relation to water resources, illegal sand mining, soil erosion associated with catchment runoff, urbanisation and the associated poor sanitation services, unsustainable livestock farming, crop production and land degradation.


  • development of integrated catchment specific management plans with inputs from all relevant stakeholders.
  • establishment of strategic relationships and partnerships with key stakeholders, targeting those with catchment management and environmental/biodiversity management mandates as well as those with direct impacts on water resources. The partnerships should be aimed at solving issues from the source as well as implementing interventions that can improve the impacts of poor catchment health.
  • collaboration with municipalities to upgrade and repair sewer and wastewater treatment infrastructure.
  • investigation of potential ecological infrastructure that can be restored upstream of strategic resource.
  • encourage controlled and rotational grazing and other sustainable land use management practices to local communities and farmers.
  • Implementation of sand mining interventions at the uMngeni-uThukela Water dams by Operations through UW Security Services. A motivation with recommendations was submitted to the Operations division to request Security Services to identify and stop all sand mining activities at UW dams. Illegal sand-miners are armed and threatening and therefore an armed security force is required to identify and stop all illegal sand mining activities at uMngeni-uThukela Water operated sites.
  • Ensuring active participation at catchment management forums and other stakeholder engagement platforms for integrated water resource management.
  • collaboration with stakeholders and local communities to develop and implement integrated management plans both terrestrial and aquatic alien invasive vegetation.
  • appoint a service provider undertake catchment water quality modelling for all uMngeni-uThukela Water dams to understand the impacts of surrounding land use on water resource quality and to implement practical recommendations from specialists.


Well-managed and sustainable water resources are critical to uMngeni-uThukela Water’s core function of providing sustainable potable water supply. Alien aquatic weeds invading various water resources pose a significant risk to water quality and quantity. The aquatic weeds of main concern in uMngeni-uThukela Water impoundments and rivers include Water Hyacinth (Pntederia crassipes); Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes); Kariba weed (Salvinia molesta); Parrots feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) and Honwort (Ceratophyllum demersum). These free-floating and submerged aquatic plants are extremely difficult to control in eutrophic waters due to their exponential growth rate and invasion in the riverine environments. To ensure the effective management of these invasive weeds, interventions are implemented both in the upstream catchments as well as at the infested uMngeni-uThukela Water operated dams. In the upstream catchments, involvement of Non-Governmetal Organisations, Community Based Organisation, Non-Profit Orgnaisations organisations and Working for Water are critical in implementing control work. At uMngeni-uThukela Water operated dams, the main method of management is biocontrol (herbicide spraying and manual removal are considered as and when required in the critical parts of the dams where there is zero tolerance for any infestation due to strategic water abstractions that must not be interupted. For ease of management, dams are categorized into management zones which then allows implementation of suitable management methods in each of the zones i.e. Inanda Dam is categorised into three management zones namely:

  • the Upper Dam Management Zone where the main management method is active biocontrol mass release and monitoring for effectiveness (floating boom to be installed here to prevent infestation from spreading to the downstream management zones.
  • Mid Dam Management Zon, where the method of management is active biocontrol release, herbicide spraying by boat if needed (exclusing at the riparian zones) and manual removal of stradlers where feasible.
  • the Main Basin Management Zone where the method of management is active herbicide spraying of all plants including the riparian zone and manual removal of stragglers
    since this is a no tolerance zone for infestation.

The alien aquatic weeds management interventions undertaken in the year included:

  • • Regular site inspections and implementation of integrated methods of management (Biocontrol is the primary method and other methods are only considered as and when required) at infested catchments and dams to achieve a target of ≥80% (12/15) sites with low residual risk of infestation.
  • Undertaking boat surveys for Inanda Dam, Albert Falls, Ixopo Home Farm Dam and E.J Smith Dam.
  • Development and implementation of integrated catchment management plans for aquatic weeds infestation Inanda Dam, Ixopo Hope Fram Dam and E.J. Smith Dam in collaboration with the UMngeni-uThukela Water internal stakeholders (Operations and Water and Environmental Services) Centre for Biological Control of Rhodes University, Msinsi Holdings, DFFE and Duzi-Umgeni Conservation Trust. The management plans outline the procedures for the monitoring, control and the management approaches that are being adopted to control the infestation. Interventions aim to treat the problem at source and also treat the symptoms of the problem. Targets and interventions thst were implemented during the period under review included
  • Regular inspections at all uMngeni-uThukela Water operated dams.Providig support to the Municipalities for sewer infrastructure monitoring to monitor nutrient loading impacts on eutrophication of infested dams.
  • Calculation of nutrient loadings and trophic status of infested or high risk sites and assessment of trends.
  • Liaison with DFFE and relevant stakeholders to support weed management efforts in the upstream catchment of the infested or vulnerable dams.
  • Establishment, operation and maintenance of the Inanda Dam biocontrol mass rearing facility.
  • Mass release of biocontrol agents at Inanda Dam.
  • Procurement/sourcing of herbicide for operations spraying.
  • Awareness creation judt before the DUSI Maratho Canoe on the implementation of interventions at Inanda Dam Dam.
  • Appointment of contractors to undertake herbicide spraying at Ixopo Home Farm Dam and Inanda Dam.
  • Herbicide spraying and removal of stragglers – near the abstraction points
  • Operation and maintenance of the Lynnfi eld Park biocontrol mass rearing facility
  • Assessment (fi eld and desktop using Macrophyte viewer) and preparation/updating of status maps
  • Continous aquatic weeds research and training in collaboration with the CBC of Rhodes University
  • Impoundment shoreline boat survey with the support from CBC of the Rhodes University.
  • Appointment of a service provider to breed and supply relevant biocontrol agents to ensure sufficient supply for release at upstream catchments and infestied dams.
  • Drone survey assessing weed infestation status at Inanda Dam
  • Communication to external stakeholders catchment Management Forums
  • Active participation in KZN Aquatic Weeds Working Group, and provision of feedback to DFFE.
  • Undertaking monthly progress meetings with uMngeni-uThukela Water Aquatic Weeds Management Working Group constisting of internal and external stakeholders to support the implementation of interventions.


Similar to aquatic alien weeds, terrestrial alien weeds infestation in riparian zones have significant impacts on sustainable water supply. The national environmental legislation on biodiversity management requires state-owned entities to put in place measures to control, monitor and eradicate terrestrial alien weeds. UMngeni-uThukela Water in partnership with Msinsi developed and implemented a plan to remove terrestrial alien weeds at uMngeni-uThukela Water operational sites specified in Table 11.3

Reserve / SiteHectares Removed (Ha)
Albert Falls Dam545.71
Spring Grove Dam98
Hazelmere Dam95.56
Inanda Dam183.45
Nagle Dam521.2
Mvutshane Dam148
Nungwane Dam98
Darvill WWTW54.88
EJ Smith Dam37
Mzinto Dam50.4
Ixopo (Aquatics)28.5
Upper Mkomazi40


Ecological infrastructure can be defined as the nature-based equivalent of built or hard infrastructure. It refers to ecosystems that function naturally to deliver invaluable services to people and the environment including enhanced water quality and improved quantity, soil erosion management, climate regulation and disaster risk reduction. Ecological infrastructure includes catchments, rivers, wetlands, groundwater resources, inland and coastal areas, nodes and corridors of natural habitats, which together form a network of interconnected natural structural elements in the landscape.

Unfortunately, assessments indicate that the majority of important ecological infrastructure upstream of uMngeni-uThukela Waters strategic dams is seriously modified as a result poor land management practices and lack of awareness on the importance of ecological infrastructure in water supply and disaster reduction. As a result, these green infrastructures are not able to provide the expected ecosystem services in their current degraded. Furthermore, South Africa is a water stressed country that is also facing the impacts of cycles of severe droughts and extreme flood events that are projected to increase in frequency, intensity and magnitude with the impacts climate change, especially in the eastern coastal areas where uMngeni-uThukela Water area of operation is located. Investment in ecological infrastructure rehabilitation and restoration, therefore, plays a significant role in providing services that supplements and at times substitutes built infrastructure solutions underpin socio-economic development. Well managed ecological infrastructure can increase the resilience of water resources to the human impacts as well as the impacts of climate change since green infrastructures such as wetlands and grasslands has the ability to enhance water quality, improve water quantity, buffer human settlements and built infrastructure against extreme events of floods and droughts, playing a cost effective role in disaster risk reduction.

Management and protection of ecological infrastructure ensures sustainable water availability, and therefore is as fundamental to uMngeni-uThukela Water’s business as grey or engineered infrastructure development. As part of its commitment to integrated catchment management, uMngeni-uThukela Water, therefore, considers investment in ecological infrastructure management as one of the key drivers for achieving the objectives of integrated water resource management which are to ensure coordinated management of water resources in order to achieve water resources protection, efficient use, conservation, control and sustainable management. UMngeni-uThukela Water’s initiatives on investment in ecological infrastructure are aligned to national government priorities and the National Development Plan objectives. This also include the key principles that guide investment in ecological infrastructure as recommended by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The ecological infrastructure related initiatives undertaken by uMngeni-uThukela Water in the year include:


uMngeni-uThukela Water updated the desktop wetland assessment undertaken in 2019/20 that included the identification of strategic l wetlands within uMngeni-uThukela Water area of operation. The study also involved the assessment of the present ecological status of the identified wetlands and prioritisation for implementation of interventions. The assessment revealed that the majority of wetlands within uMngeni-uThukela Water strategic catchments fall under the category C, D, E and F in terms of the present ecological status and this implies that these wetlands are characterised by high level of degradation that is associated with loss of natural habitat, biota and basic ecosystem function. The wetlands that were found to be highly degraded are located in the following quaternary catchments: Mooi River (V20A-D), Midmar (U20B and C), Msunduzi River (U20J and U20H), Karkloof (U20D) Ixopo (U10K), Nungwane (U70D), and uMdloti (U30A).

The prioritised wetlands for detailed assessment and restoration incudes the Darvill Waste Water Works Constructed Wetlands, Mpophomeni Waster Water Works Wetland, Sobantu Wetland at Baynespruit, the Ixopo Home Farm Dam wetland assessment and a feasibility study for a constructed wetland at the Mzimayi inflow to the EJ Smith Dam. The rational for this prioritisation has been the location of these wetlands in relation to the bulk water supply strategic water resources (Inanda Dam, Midmar Dam, Ixopo Home Farm Dam and EJ Smith Dam) that are compromised by upstream landuse practices and need to be supplemented by ecological infrastructure interventions that ensure sustainable supply of water that is fit for purpose.

In parallel to the broader wetland status assessment, uMngeni-uThukela Water, in collaboration with the Durban University Technology, is undertaking a research project to determine the potential of constructed floating wetlands to improve water quality in nutrient-rich environments. In this project, floating wetlands are piloted using a variety of plant species in several aquatic environments. Project implementation commenced in March 2021 and modest technology was used to identify the most appropriate non-invasive plant species that can improve water quality in nutrient enriched aquatic environments. the first results for the project are expected in the second quarter of the 2021/2022 year. If the project is successful, the floating wetlands approach will be implemented in other strategic areas where interventions are required.

In addition to the rehabilitation work and the development of rehabilitation strategies, uMngeni-uThukela Water, in collaboration with the Durban University Technology, is undertaking a research project to determine the potential of constructed floating wetlands to improve water quality in nutrient-rich environments. In this project, floating wetlands are piloted using a variety of plant species in several aquatic environments. Project implementation commenced in March 2021 and modest technology was used to identify the most appropriate non-invasive plant species that can improve water quality in nutrient enriched aquatic environments. If the project is successful, the floating wetlands approach will be implemented in other strategic areas where interventions are required.


The Department of Water and Sanitation in collaboration with uMngeni-uThukela Water and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority plans to implement the Mkomazi-Mgeni Tranfer Scheme to augment water supply in the Mgeni System so water demands from eThekwini metro and surrounding areas can be met. The major challenge is that the catchment upstream of the proposed Smithfield Dam in the Mkomazi River is unlike any other in the greater uMngeni River Basin. Much of it is already highly degraded, especially in areas under communal tenure and a significant proportion of the remainder is at very high risk of future similar degradation. Technical experts have generated a number of scenarios related to the rate of sediment deposition that might occur in the proposed dam and the most reasonable scenario indicate that the dam would lose about half of its volume to sediment over 100 years.

In addition, highly turbid due to sedimentation and siltation will contribute significantly to an increase in purification costs. Climate change, bringing both droughts and more intense rainfall events to this area, is likely to accelerate erosion and subsequent dam sedimentation and further increase turbidity. Population demographics for the Mkomazi area show that 68% of people living in the area have no formal income and 10% earn less than R3500 per month. Women are particularly vulnerable with 8755 female-headed households of which about 3492 are reliant on unprotected water sources. Many households survive by supplementing social grant and transfer payments with small-scale stock and crop production. UMngeni-uThukela Water has therefore took an initiative to collaborate with stakeholders to engage in an upper-catchment scale intervention that conserves and/or restores this landscape. In addition to improving water security and reducing the cost of water provision this initiative creates significant direct and indirect economic opportunities to local residents and improve biodiversity with associated ecosystem benefits. This proposed intervention is of considerable magnitude and is costly. However, it is anticipated that the benefits of successful conservation and restoration will, over the long term, far outweigh the costs. The dam itself (estimated cost at R30 billion) is likely to deliver limited local economic opportunities and most benefits benefits will accrue from upstream protection rather than from the dam itself. First phase of the project was completed in 2020 and phase 2 commenced in the latter part of 2020 and will be finished towards the end of 2023, then phase 3 will follo. Phase 2 is a continuation from from phase 1 and focuses on the implementation of the plan that was developed during phase 1.

The overall objective of this project is use nature based solutions to address the severe land degradation and invasive alien plant infestation in the Upper Mkhomazi Catchment so as to improve water security, the livelihood prospects of local residents and biodiversity outcomes. This is being achieved through implementation of catchment management and ecological infrastructure interventions at degraded areas located upstream of the proposed Smith Field Dam.


The Ecological Infrastructure for water security project is a five year $7.2 million (approximately R90 million) worth investment from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with considerable co-finance from various collaboration South African partners. The Department of Environmental Affairs is the National focal point for this project, the Development bank of South Africa (DBSA) is the Implementing Agent for the GEF and SANBI is the project executing agency. The Project aims to transform the way people think about, value and invest in water and ecosystems, and will lead to increased investment in the management of ecological infrastructure in the future.

The project acknowledges the reality that, South Africa’s water security depends not only on our built water infrastructure, but also on well managed land in our catchments. Healthy wetlands, grasslands, rivers and groundwater ecosystems in the landscape will make our future more water secure. These are ecological infrastructure that can generate and deliver significant improvements in water quantity and quality if we look after them. Investing in ecological infrastructure in conjunction with built infrastructure, will deliver more clean water from our land. Investments are particularly important in strategic water source areas where ecological infrastructure assets are under-protected and slowly, or sometimes rapidly degrading.

There is an urgent need to bring investment in the management, maintenance and restoration of ecosystems into the planning, financing and development in the water sector. Such investments will create more jobs and advance our nation’s developmental agenda, especially in face of a changing climate. Designed in close consultation with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), the project supports the implementation of the National Water Resource Strategy and it is included as part of the Call to Action in the Water and Sanitation Master Plan. Project implementation is through a suite of partnerships involving several other public, private and civil society organisations, such as the DWS, the Water Research Commission, WWF-SA and recently uMngeni-uThukela Water.

The project was launched at the DBSA as a development finance institution with the ability to take the country’s natural capital into account in development financing. This project themed “Nature for Water” foregrounds nature based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century and places South Africa at the forefront of this work globally and has taken important steps towards demonstrating the return on investment in ecological infrastructure in terms of actual water-related benefits in South Africa over the long term. Finally, the EI4WS project is about ensuring living landscapes that deliver more water to communities and cities. Unlocking this potential will contribute towards South Africa’s National Development Plan, our National Infrastructure Plan, it will support the implementation of the National Water Resource Strategy and contribute to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

During 2021/2022, uMngeni-uThukela Water signed a collaboration agreement with SANBI to lead and implement component 2.2 of the project under the theme “Enhanced organizational capacity and investment in ecological infrastructure in the Greater uMngeni catchment to improve water resource management” on outcome 2.2.2 that is looking at determining the full costs of rehabilitation and maintenance of water related ecological infrastructure and determining the associated Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement (CME) in order to support the mainstreaming of ecological infrastructure into the financing of water resource management and development.

uMngeni-uThukela Water scope of work includes the following:

  • Undertake studies to the eligibility for catchments to implementing the Waste Discharge Charge System
  • Develop detailed costing from the Water Resource Management Area, including the Catchment Management Strategy implementation; CME and Waste Discharge Charges to better calculate the costs of EI protection, rehabilitation and maintenance and compliance management in the Water Resource Management Charge.
  • investigate the full cost of water for different water user groups in the catchment and explore opportunities within the water value chain to ensure equitable allocation of full costs of water amongst different users.
  • Review offsets as part of the mitigation hierarchy, compensation and value add examples to develop guidance, that may be used in EIAs, EMPs, licenses, pricing structures, tariffs and safeguards of financial institutions.
  • Development of a plan for the monitoring and evaluation of the rehabilitation of the Mpophomeni Mthinzima wetland (DFFE-Working for Wetlands project) which includes the use of citizen science and implementation of an “Envirochamps” model or similar model that capacities and empowers local youth.

UMngeni-uThukela Water has made considerable investments in this project through

  • allocating human resources (1 Catchment Scientist, 1 Ecological Infrastructure Coordinator, 5 graduate trainees, legal advisor and a project accountant); and office The project commenced towards the end of 2021 and is anticipated to be completed in 2024.
  • providing office space for the SANBI Ecological Infrastructure Coodinator for the Pongola-Mthamvuna Water Management
  • providing office furniture for the SANBI personell
  • Access to telephone and internet for Ecological Infrastructure Coordinator: Pongola-uMzimkhulu WMA
  • Access to data sets owned by uMngeni-uThukela Water required to produce the deliverables outlined in Annexure B of the UW-SANBI collaboration agreement.
  • providing water quality monitoring and lab services / analyses


The National Water Act, Act No 36 of 1998 (NWA), requires that water-use licences are obtained before any water-use activity or development can be undertaken. Water use is defined as undertaking activities that have an impact on a water resource. The impact may be on the amount of water in the resource, the quality of water in the resource and the environment surrounding the resource. Section 21 of the NWA lists 11 water uses as requiring a water-use licence before they can be undertaken. Of the 11 listed water uses, only seven are applicable to uMngeni-uThukela Water and include:

  • Taking water from a water resource (water abstractions);
  • Storing water (raw water storage in a dams);
  • Impeding or diverting the flow of water in a watercourse (river or wetland crossing or construction of a dam or weir);
  • Discharging waste or water containing waste into a water resource through a pipe, canal, sewer, sea outfall or other conduits (discharges from WWTW and WTW to the river);
  • Disposing of waste in a manner which may detrimentally impact on a water resource (sludge solids disposal);
  • Altering the bed, banks, course or characteristics of a watercourse (river or wetland crossing or construction of a dam or weir);
  • Engaging in a controlled activity (Irrigation with wastewater/ sludge).

Water users can include any entity or individual whose operations trigger the water uses that are listed in section 21 of the NWA. To ensure compliance with the requirements of the NWA, the water-use licence status and compliance was monitored and quarterly reporting was undertaken. This included developing and implementing action plans to obtain outstanding licences and compliance with the conditions of the existing authorisations.

The status of water use licence applications for CAPEX Projects (new infrastructure development projects) is presented in the figure below:


Catchment parameter monitoring is a fundamental component of water supply services. uMngeni-uThukela Water catchment parameter of interest include water quality, hydrology (rainfall, river level, streamflow and evaporation), land use change, soil erosion (sediments), river health, wetland health and climate data. However, existing catchment monitoring is sparce, difficult to obtain and variable in content and accuracy. Remote Sensing (satellite imagery and drone technology) and Citizen Science technology and innovation presents an opportunity for closing the existing data and information gaps, since these innovations can provide data over a wide area. These innovations present a huge potential for improved spatial coverage yet they are currently largely restricted to the research domain. uMngeni-uThukela Water in collaboration with stakeholders undertakes a numbers of remote sensing and citizen science projects and initiatives.

The remote sensing projects that were undertaken during the period under review include the following: operationalising water Quality Monitoring Using Satellite Imagery – A feasibility Study
This study was undertaken in collaboration with Geoterra Image as and used Sentinel-2 satellite image and uMngeni-uThukela Water in-sutu water quality data using Inanda Dam and Nagle Dam as pilot studies. The study focused on the following water quality parameters:

  • chlorophyll-a
  • turbidity and
  • algal concentration (Phycocynin and Cynobacteria).

The primary objectives of the study were to:

  1. Identify algorithms that could represent the targeted water quality parameters using spectral data sources from satellite imagery;
  2. Verify the capability of such algorithms to generate quantitative estimates of the targeted water quality parameters.

The results of the study confirmed the feasibility of using 20m Sentinel-2 to generate qualitative and quantitative representations of chlorophyll-a and Turbity levels in dams with acceptable modelling and calibration accuracies, using published water quality algorithms. The study highlighted that a final analytical step is still required to determine appropriate concentration threshold values necessary to reliably separate the modelled chlorophyll-a and turbidity levels and ensure correct spatial representations of each characteristic.

For algal concentration, the study indicated that further work is required to demonstrate the feasibility of using sentinel-2 image to detect levels of algal concentration. The results indicated that use of published algal count algorithms on Sentinel-2 imagery does not generate the suitable levels of quantitative accuracy to support quantitative operational use. As such, the study recommended repeating the algal analyses component of the study using Sentinel-3 image data as the next necessary step.


This project was undertaken in collaboration with the Institute of Natural Resources and the Cape Penisula University of Technology. The primary aim is to investigate the feasibility of using drone technology to undertake catchment parameter monitoring. The scope of work includes undertaking a literature review and undertaking a trial flight over the selected pilot sites. The catchment parameter of interest for this project includes the following:

  • Suspended solids in rivers;
  • Chlorophyll-a in rivers;
  • Aquatic weeds at Inanda Dam;
  • Sewer leaks.

The literature review was completed in June 2021, while the trial flight was undertaken in July 2021. The results of the study indicates that:


The Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu initiative is a multi-stakeholder citizen science project that is a presidential employment stimulus initiative led by the Department of Science and Innovation and implemented by DUCT. For phase 1 of this initiative uMngeni-uThukela Water provided co-funding for 20 envirochamps that were working at two Baynesspruit sites. The project provided employment to more than 300 young people for three months. The citizen science tools that were utilised in the project included the following:

  • Water Clarity Tube;
    Transparent Velocity Head Rod;
    Field Survey app.

As part of this project uMngeni-uThukela Water provided co-funding to update the State of the Rivers Report (SOR) for the Mooi-Mngeni Catchment. The SOR is an important catchment management reference and was last updated in 2002. This initiative afforded an opportunity for the uMngeni-uThukela Water catchment management graduate trainees to be seconded to the project and received capacity buisling on undertaking the situational and gap analysis, water quality sampling and Water Quality Index. The final State of Rivers Report will be available in 2022.

For phase 2 of AEN which took place during 2021/2022, uMngeni-uThukela Water in Collaboration with institute of Natural Resources (INR) supported 70 Enviro Champs and placed them under the Upper Mkhomazi initiative.

Msinsi Holdings Sustainable Land and Resource Management

Msinsi Holdings SOC Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of uMngeni-uThukela Water, is mandated to manage the land and biodiversity of the areas around the dams owned or managed by uMngeni-uThukela Water in a manner that balances the divergent factors of local community development provision of recreational facilities for the public and water resources/biodiversity protection.

These reserves are located at:

  • Spring Grove Dam;
  • Albert Falls Dam;
  • Nagle Dam;
  • Inanda Dam;
  • Hazelmere Dam.

The following sites have been incorporated into the scope of Msinsi for implementing catchment management interventions associated with alien invasive plant eradication:

  • Nungwane Dam;
  • Imvutshani Dam;
  • Mhlabatshane Dam;
  • Umzinto Dam;
  • EJ Smith Dam;
  • Darvill Wastewater Treatment Works;
  • Ixopo Dam (aquatic weeds).

Detailed management plans for each of the reserves in line with industry best practice have been completed and form the basis for all operations in the reserves. In the past year, Msinsi succeeded in protecting the habitats and ensuring an ecological sustainable and protected water environment through implementing its resource management plans which focused on:

The management of the game and species according to the carrying capacity of each reserve;

  • Local community development;
  • Recreation for the public;
  • Grassland management;
  • Pollution control within purchase areas;
  • Removal of alien invasive plants (terrestrial and aquatics).

The ecological balance was managed effectively during this period through the implementation of Reserve Management Plans. In particular, carrying capacity was managed to ensure sustainability of wildlife populations and measures to mitigate poaching, which has been a significant threat to the reserve wildlife, were put in place. Security patrols are conducted as per a patrol plan to identify
and mitigate security risks to the reserves including ensuring reserve fence lines are in good condition.

Msinsi Holdings continues to be seen as a significant player in the conservation and tourism sector in KwaZulu-Natal. The state-owned company will continue to ensure that ecosystem services provided by water and environmental resources continue to be sustainable. Stakeholder engagement successfully created value for Msinsi’s operations and the communities at large during this reporting period. As a result, there was no interruption of Msinsi’s operations as a result of community instability in the neighbouring areas. Msinsi continued providing environmental education targeting surrounding communities. A total of 82 environmental education initiatives in areas of water conservation environmental awareness and commemoration of environmental special days were implemented.

Sourcing labour within the communities around Msinsi operations created job opportunities for the communities, with a total of 1058 temporary jobs created during the reporting period.

In partnership with other stakeholders, six graduates, in-service trainees and interns received training opportunities in fields ranging from Hospitality to Human Resources Management. Msinsi Holdings is planning to sustain its training programmes to continue to contribute to skills development, particularly for the youth from neighbouring communities.


uMngeni-uThukela Water has solidified its commitment to conserve scarce natural resources and reduce the environmental impacts of its operational activities through environmental sustainability initiatives. The initiatives aim to transform the organisation from the typical wasteful linear economic model (of take-make-use-dispose) to an economic model that enables economic growth, while aiming to optimise the operation chain in a more sustainable approach. Waste minimisation was identified as one of the crucial initiatives in reducing the amount of waste that is disposed at landfill sites. A notable increase in the hazardous waste was observed during the reporting period, this increase might be due to the Covid Regulations, that resulted in an increased volume of the hazardous waste. The total amount of waste that was produced is 1115 kg per million m3 and 13.25% of the waste was recycled (Figure 11.7 and 11.8)


The management of Water Treatment Residues (WTRs) and wastewater sludge forms an integral component of the core business of uMngeni-uThukela Water. Current sludge management practices include on and off-site disposal and river discharges. However, these practices are not sustainable because of the environmental impacts associated with on-site disposal, the limited landfill space and the impact of the river discharges on the aquatic ecosystem. Moreover, the current sludge management practices have posed challenges in recent years from changes in the environmental legislation, with additional requirements for expensive landfill liners and leachate management at all landfill sites. This triggered the need for uMngeni-uThukela Water to develop a comprehensive Sludge Management Plan (SMP) for its operational sites.

The WTRs will be applied to agricultural land as a soil conditioner whilst the wastewater sludge will be used as organic compost. Wastewater sludge contains organic matter and nutrients that can provide soil benefits. Planned work is to design and pilot a long-term solution that will transform both management of WTRs and wastewater sludge from a liability into an asset on a commercially representative scale.


Risk RatingNo. of FindingsPercent (%)

Annual environmental audits are undertaken at operational sites the objectives, which are:

  • To assess whether the site complies with all applicable environmental legislation and regulations;
  • To assess internal policy and procedural compliance in relational to environmental management;
  • To assess the status of energy consumption, waste management and biodiversity management at the site and alignment with corporate environmental sustainability initiatives;
  • To recommend mitigation measures to address areas of non-conformance.

Operational environmental audits were conducted at 24 sites for 2021/2022. Out of 48 findings, 6 findings were rated major.


  • Non-compliances against Water Use Licences (WUL) in terms of annual sharing of the required information with the Regional Head, investigation of efficient techniques to conserve water, annual dam safety evaluations and development and implementation of biomonitoring programmes;
  • Non-compliances against General Authorisations (GA) in terms of registration of wastewater discharge activities into a water resource;
  • The absence of discharge licences, WUL or General Authorisation at some of the newly acquired sites and some of the existing WTWs;

Mitigation measures and action plans have been instituted to address these findings


In the year under review, there were 18 environmental incidents recorded for the 2021/2022 financial year (69 incidents in 2021). This indicates a decrease in the number of incidents from the previous year. Figure 11.9 provides the comparative analysis for the past five years.


uMngeni-uThukela Water’s core business function is to provide water services – water supply and sanitation services – to other water services institutions. Business relies highly on the natural resource, which is freshwater resources, although there has been measures to venture into other sources of water. In this regard, the natural

During the reporting period there were 31 projects in the planning, design or procurement phase, which were managed through the IEM System.
  • eleven (11) projects have been granted environmental authorisations,
  • thirteen (13) projects are in the planning and design phase and currently undergoing the environmental authorisation application process,
  • one (1) project for which the application was submitted to the authority and rejected. Further liaison will be undertaken with the authority to seek approval.
  • two (2) projects that has an environmental authorisation in place but requires an amendment, and
  • four (4) projects that did not trigger any listed activities and do not require environmental approval.