MOOI-MGENI TRANSFER SCHEME – PHASE 2 (MMTS-2)

 

The Mgeni Water System in KwaZulu-Natal supplies water to approximately five million people, as well as the industrial sectors in the Durban and Pietermaritzburg regions, the economic hubs of the province. The growth in water demand and intermittent drought periods since 2003 have made it necessary for the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) to implement Phase 2 of the Mooi Mgeni Transfer Scheme (MMTS-2)

The existing phase 1 of the MMTS (MMTS-1) consists of the Mearns Weir situated at the confluence of the Mooi and Little Mooi Rivers, downstream of the Spring Grove Dam. From there water is pumped through a pipeline to the outfall at the Mpofana River from where the water flows to Midmar Dam on the Mgeni River. This scheme was completed in 2003.

The growth in water demand and intermittent drought periods since 2003 have made it necessary for the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) to implement Phase 2 of the Mooi Mgeni Transfer Scheme (MMTS-2). The environmental, social and economic studies were undertaken and supported by subsequent EIA processes, which went through a number of phases.The EIA started in 1999 and was concluded in January 2009 with the submission of the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to the national and provincial environmental authorities.

In November 2007, the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) received a Directive from the Minister of Water Affairs to fund and implement the MMTS-2 through the private sector. TCTA is a statutory body established under the National Water Act originally; to finance and construct the South African part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

On 15 June 2009 the Department of Environmental Affairs issued a positive Record of Decision (RoD) for the project and the following components were approved:

  • The construction of the Spring Grove Dam, and two measuring weirs (one in the Mooi River and another in the Mpofana River);
  • The construction of a pumping station and transfer pipeline (including a break pressure tank and the outfall works) from Spring Grove Dam to the Mpofana River; and
  • An artifical fish barrier on the Mooi River upstream of the Inchbrakie Falls on the farm Coldstream.

Two appeals were received against the RoD. The Mooi River Farmers’ Association appealed against the Dam, as they felt that other strategic water resource options were not considered. They subsequently withdrew their appeal. The Mziki Homeowners Association raised objections about the EIA process, the lack of alternatives for the routing of the pipeline and the lack of proper assessment of the significant impacts. The appeal against the pipeline was upheld by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development on 28 September 2010. A new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process was undertaken for the Water Transfer System to determine the preferred pipeline route.

The Spring Grove Dam will provide much-needed water to the municipalities via the transfer of water to Midmar Dam. The MMTS-1 will be used to transfer water to the Mgeni catchment until the new pipeline is operational by about 2013.