Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has encouraged communities in KwaZulu-Natal to use water responsibly.
"As a country, we need to proactively root out unlawful water use, non-compliance to water use authorisation, and water losses and leaks. Abiding by the law and authorisations will assist in achieving our vision of equitable and sustainable water use," said Minister Mokonyane.
In her address to traditional leaders at a stakeholder engagement in Durban on Friday, the Minister said among the challenges faced by the province and other provinces is that of sand mining.
"Another challenge faced by KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces is that we as community leaders give permission to the sand miners to undertake sand mining activities in rivers without obtaining the necessary environmental authorisation," said the Minister.
"Sand is often sold to buyers in Gauteng but this comes at a great environmental loss. Sand mining is a lucrative age-old business that involves excavating sand from the riverbanks. This leads to an excess of problems, including diverting the river's natural flow, increased evaporation and soil erosion,"said the Mokonyane.
Through the stakeholder engagement, the Department and Water and Sanitation wants to improve understanding of the impacts of unlawful water use through sand mining by educate traditional leaders on legislative requirements for engaging in sand mining activities.
The department will ensure that good relationships with traditional leaders are maintained to ensure that sand and gravel are mined in a sustainable way.
KwaZulu-Natal is currently facing unlawful water use activities through sand mining in rivers such as Illovo, Umzumbe, UMthwalume, UMvoti, Buffalo, UMdloti, Amatikulu, UMhlathuze, Umfolozi and uMgeni.
Unlawful water use through sand mining activities is causing numerous and serious problems such as the disruption in potable water supply and pollution of water resources.
While the department continues to enforce the stopping of unlawful water use activities through various means including administrative actions, opening of criminal cases among others, it has noted that the perpetrators disregard these enforcement actions and continue to benefit by selling the river sand to construction and hardware companies.
This is very costly to the local communities who end up incurring the cost for the restoration of water resources and water services disrupted and distracted," said Minister Mokonyane.
The Minister called on traditional leaders to participate in door-to-door awareness campaigns in affected communities and to work with the department on identifying illegal sand mining and report such transgressors.