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Assessing water management practices within the KwaZulu-Natal region: a case study of eThekwini Municipality.

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Our primary source of supply of water is through rainfall. It can be simply said that water is stored in dams, purified, and released at a cost to the public. Municipalities purchase water from their suppliers, and in the case of eThekwini, from Umgeni Water. Rainfall patterns have changed over a period and we are experiencing the effects of El Nino, a phenomenon that warms the Pacific Ocean and leads to drought in the southern hemisphere. The climate change scenario means lower and erratic rainfall and reduced water supply. The country will get drier, supply will be reduced while at the same time population increases, and economic and other activities create a huge water demand. Failure to supply water and failure to develop effective and adequate mitigating strategies carry grave human costs in the modern era. Economic losses due to water shortages are immense, impacting food supply, manufacturing, tourism, and other activities. The social cost includes a negative impact on the wealth of people and increasing the gap in living standards in society. The current water crisis affects millions. One of the main objectives of this study was to investigate the accessibility of water supply to consumers within the eThekwini Municipality region. The focus is on investigating the challenges experienced when trying to access water during erratic rainfall patterns. The rationale for conducting this study is therefore to help familiarise citizens of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) with the various restrictions and remedies that can help them conserve and utilise water more effectively and efficiently. This study emphasised the importance, causes, impacts, and current quality management system used for the limited water supply that is affecting not only the KZN province but South Africa. The study utilised an exploratory case study method to assess the water management practices within KwaZulu- Natal. A qualitative research approach was used which provided more value when determining the critical issues experienced during the supply of water. The research study was conducted in KwaZulu-Natal at the eThekwini Municipality Water and Sanitation Department. Purposive sampling was employed, with the sample size consisting of nine participants. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were used as a data collection tool. NVivo 12 was employed as the software tool for thematic analysis for this qualitative study. This research study contributed to the creation of knowledge on a new implementation of a quality management system and how ISO 9001 can be used to ensure effective and efficient ii quality by implementing new practices that will ensure continuous improvement. Findings revealed that water accessibility is seen as a continuous water supply despite the implementation of water restrictions. It was noted that the current water scarcity situation has had an impact on the current water supply and dam levels. Findings also indicated that the eThekwini Municipality and Umgeni Reservoir had a very strong and healthy business relationship and that Umgeni Reservoir was supplying approximately 790MR litres of water daily. The SCADA system was the only criterion that could be used in the implementation of water restrictions. Water management practices were effectively managed in high consumption areas such as Umlazi and Tongaat. There was no actual quality management system in place and the eThekwini Municipality water and sanitation department were using various measures to meet the required quality standards. SANS241 and aggressive awareness programs were suggested to assist sensitive consumers. Revenue leakages were identified within the water supply system and recommendation for smart water metering was suggested for better reading, identifying water flow interruptions and illegal connections.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.