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Photo: Jonathon Scheepers
Photo: Jonathon Scheepers

National water levels still in crisis

By Jomiro Eming

The past week saw two significant announcements with regards to the water situation of the country. First off, rumours emerged that Amatola Water withdrew their services from the Makana Municiplality as of the 31st August, due to an unpaid R40 million bill for water management. Then, the City of Cape Town announced over the weekend that level 5 water restrictions would be implemented over the coming weeks, on top of the 87-litre limit on individual water usage.

With the dam levels not rising at insignificant rates, and with summer quickly approaching, prospects for South Africa’s water reserves look dire.

Recent reports showed a dismal 0.2% increase in the average Eastern Cape dam levels over the last week. However, the levels of these dams at this time last year were 10% higher than they are currently. In addition the “rainy season” is forecasted  to be slowly coming to an end. Supplying Grahamstown’s water, Howieson Poort remains at 21% and Settlers at 20%.

Furthermore, Adelaide and Bedford have had strict water rationing by the Amathole District Municipality, and there were also expected outages in these areas due to the severely low levels of nearby dams. The rations allowed water usage between 5am and 9am, and again between 5pm and 8pm every day.

If Amatola Water did in fact withdraw from the Makana Municipality, an enormous amount of pressure will be placed on the districts water management to secure a development plan that will prepare this region for the dry summer months that are fast approaching.

In other news, DWS Chief Financial Officer of the Water Trading Entity, Mpho Mofokeng, recently spoke at the national raw water consultation in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, on the proposed raw water tariffs for the up-coming financial year.

“The Water Resource Infrastructure Charges for the domestic and industrial sectors will increase from 0% to 14.6%,” Mofokeng announced. “The irrigation charges will also range from 0%-14.6%.”

In the Western Cape and Cape Town, the situation is not much better.

This weekend saw the implementation of level 5 water restrictions. These restrictions urge residents of Cape Town to use no more than 87-litres per person-per day, but with the latest restriction there will now be an added domestic property usage cap set at 20-kilolitres per month. Any household that exceeds this quota may be liable to a fine, reported to be anything between R5000 and R10 000, or the obligatory installation of water-saving devices.

The city’s executive mayor, Patricia de Lille, explained this in the statement released over the weekend:

“The usage in the month of September will determine what actions delinquent users will be subject to thereafter. Where non-compliance occurs, users can be subject to an admission of guilt fine or, in accordance with Section 36(4) of the City’s Water By-law, the installation of a water management device (the cost of which will be billed to the account holder). Installation of these devices in the households of the most excessive users commenced three weeks ago and will be ramped up in the coming weeks.”

The statement also urged residents across the country to use the online water calculator, which can be found online at the following link: http://bit.ly/ThinkWaterCalculatorCT

Updates on the national water situation will be followed and reported on as soon as they are released. Until then, however, please continue saving water – if not for you, then for the millions of South Africans that have no other alternatives.

If circumstances do not change, then – this time next year – we may very well be the first water-less nation.

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