A process for a synchronised synergy between integrated development plans and regional water plans.
Historically and to date, regional water services providers and municipalities have been undertaking their long-term planning in isolation. The only time there is an exchange of information is when water demands need to be met in the short-term and to date this focus has been around backlog alleviation. The fact that the long-term planning is being undertaken in isolation is undermining the objective of the Integrated Development Plan i.e. the co-ordination of development leading to an improvement in the quality of life for all. The purpose of this study was to identify the linkages between regional water service providers' water plans, the municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Water Services Development Plans (WSDPs) with the goal of answering the following question: How can a regional water service provider's water planning process improve a municipal IDP process and how can a water service provider's water planning process benefit from a municipallDP process? To answer the research question, the study looked at the products and processes of the water plan, the IDPs and the WSDPs for Umgeni Water, The Msunduzi Municipality, Umgungundlovu District Municipality, Sisonke District Municipality, lIembe District Municipality, The KwaDukuza Municipality, uMshwathi Municipality and uMngeni Municipality. Comparing and contrasting the products of the different planning products for the study area, the following facets were investigated: the spatial location of investments/developments; how implementation was presented; demand projections and stakeholder participation. The study established that the preferred water planning process is Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) and not traditional water supply planning which has the master plan as its product. It was further established that both the IDP and IRP processes follow the strategic planning approach and therefore the generic steps in these processes are the same. The major difference between the two processes is the scale at which they occur. As the IRP process occurs over different municipal boundaries, it provides a check that alignment is occurring between the different municipalities at all levels of the project life-cycle. It was also established that alignment appears to be occurring at the conceptual/reconnaissance phases of the project lifecycle but it does not extend to the pre-feasibility, feasibility and implementation levels. Hence stakeholder co-ordination is critical for successful alignment but cannot be restricted to only forums; the relevant stakeholders should be part of the respective project teams for meaningful participation to occur. The overall conclusion was that a regional water service provider's IRP process can contribute to the successful accomplishment of an IDP.