'Illegal river dams must be investigated'

SEVERAL Limpopo rivers are being prevented from flowing freely because of the "illegal construction" of dams.

The National African Farmers' Union (Nafu) has called for a full investigation into the illegal dams - apparently built by local farmers.

Nafu said the existence of such dams disadvantaged other farmers, who were unable to properly irrigate their fields.

Nafu's Joe Gondo said the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs should investigate why some rivers were running dry.

"Dams have been built that are preventing the free flow of water," he said.

"We can't sit on this problem and pretend that everything is fine. The water department should immediately investigate the problem."

Farmers, as the largest consumers of water, would be faced with production problems because of the lack of irrigation water, he said.

Water authorities have admitted that dams have been constructed illegally and were causing problems with the flow of river water.

Statistics have revealed that more than 900 dams have been constructed illegally.

Chief director of Water Affairs in Limpopo Alson Matukane told Sowetan that "systems had now been put in place" to uncover illegal construction of dams in various parts of Limpopo.

Matukane said a "process of validation" to uncover illegal water usage among water users had also been introduced.

Its purpose, he said, was to allocate water to those who were being disadvantaged by the developments.

He also said the department would institute legal action against those who fail to comply with legislation covering the supply of water.