Water Resource Management is all about balance, sharing and fairness
South African law says that water needs to be shared fairly among everyone who needs it and that it should be protected for our children and their children and so on. To do this, everyone must work together to manage water resources in a Sustainable, Equitable, and Efficient way.
Who are we?
The Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA) is the water resource management agency in the Inkomati-Usuthu Water Management Area (WMA). It is established in terms of Section 78 of the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) to perform water resource management at local level. The management of the resources entails protection, use, development, conservation, management, and control of water resources within the WMA as contemplated in the National Water Act (NWA). It is also listed as a national public entity in Schedule 3A of the Public Finance Management Act (Act 1 of 1999). The National Water Act has 3 pillars i.e. Equity, Sustainability, and Efficiency.
HOW DO WE DO IT?
INVOLVING THE COMMUNITY
Everyone must take part in planning and making decisions about water resource issues that affect their lives. The IUCMA must create groups and processes to manage different factors affecting the catchment. Such a group or process must include everyone who may be affected, must be open and honest about its intentions and must be democratic, whereby everyone’s voice counts. To ensure fairness, historically disadvantaged individuals must be trained and empowered to make informed decisions about water issues. The diversity of people and cultures in the Inkomati-Usuthu catchment must be embraced so that a shared understanding of water resources can be built.
B) Making sure that the water stays healthy Checking that all the plants and animals usually found around a river are still there is a good way to make sure the water is still safe and plentiful. If the natural life seems normal, the river is said to be “healthy” and it must be sustained this way for future generations. This is done through a dedicated unit “River health” equipped with a team of suitably qualified individuals under the directorate of Water Utilisation.
C) Regulating water
To make sure that there is enough healthy water for everyone who needs it, the IUCMA has to make sure that everyone follows the rules about water use. Stakeholder empowerment workshops are held to make sure that all concerned individuals are equipped with knowledge needed for taking part in water resources management regardless of their historical or educational background. Systems have been put in place to make sure that all data collected is analysed and made available to water users in a user- friendly manner. To make sure that all water users adhere to the NWA, they need be in possession of a valid water use licence to be able to abstract water from the resource.
C) Monitoring and Information
The IUCMA needs as much information as possible to ensure that the catchment is managed properly in support of sustainable economic and social development. It monitors social, technical, economic, environmental, and political (STEEP) factors related to water resource management in the catchment.
D) CO-OPERATIVE GOVERNANCE
All sectors, organisations and individuals must work together towards the same goal of making sure that the catchment is used Sustainably, Equitably, and Efficiently. A dedicated unit of Institutions & Participation exists to make sure all stakeholders are mobilised to take part in decision making relating to water management in the water management area.
Providing access to clean water a priority
The Inkomati-Usuthu CMA has to ensure proper management of the resource at the local level involving stakeholders. We do not provide water services, but work with water services, making sure the resource that they use and give to people is protected, clean and safe. We investigate and advise as well as empower stakeholders on water use, and do verification and validation to see whether people have the right to use water.
We must monitor water allocation, which is a challenge as the Kwena Dam that supplies an area from Nelspruit to Mozambique isn’t big enough to release water for all the people. The impact of drought on our planning activities in the past year has been bad for us. We have international obligations to honour, with an agreement to supply a certain volume of water to the other side of the Crocodile and Komati rivers across the Mozambique border.
However, we don’t have water availability as our catchment area gets insufficient rainfall.
We don’t have enough water storage for the region, as we also share water with Swaziland and Mozambique.
As the first CMA in the country, we are proud of what we have achieved so far. The compilation of the CMS; Reducing pollution in the water management area; Empowering stakeholders, especially the Historically; Disadvantaged Individuals to understand issues of water resources management and legislation; Verification and Validation of water uses; Water Use Authorisations and bringing stakeholders together. We have also assisted schools by providing water as part of our Corporate Social Investment.