Located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the Mgeni River catchment provides the potable water resources for nearly two million people, in an area of approximately 4 400 km2. The river system is well developed and impounded, but increasing population pressures in the catchment are placing greater demands on this critical water resource resulting in increasing loads of nutrients, faecal bacteria and suspended solids. Umgeni Water and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry are developing an affordable and practically implementable plan to manage the water quality on an integrated catchment basis, encompassing demographic, land-use and management considerations. The development of the plan is discussed and information on the water management related issues provided. A multidisciplinary approach has proved essential, facilitated by the development of a GIS-based system to manage and utilize the information from the study. Establishment of communication links with interested and affected parties has been critical, as has the clarification of their roles and responsibilities in dealing with identified pollution issues. Future development within the catchment is considered and the implementation of the management plan is discussed against the background of the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

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