Eastern Cape water situation "precarious"

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has this week met with Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, to discuss government’s comprehensive approach to deal with the dire water situation in affected towns in the province.

The water situation remains precarious in the Eastern Cape where dam levels continue to drop by an average one percent weekly.

Butterworth and Queenstown are among the towns worst-hit by extremely dry conditions that have been experienced in parts of the province.

The latest dam levels report by the department estimates the province’s levels at 48.3%. This is a drop by 13% compared to the same period last year.

However, Limpopo, which is also experiencing dry conditions because of the high temperatures, has improved slightly from 48.2% to 49.1% this week. Tzaneen Dam in Mopani District has also stabilised slightly after sliding its level to 5.5% last week.

Recently, the department, including the provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department and Mopani District Municipality asked the Minister to gazette stringent restrictions and prohibit the abstraction of water for irrigation, as this may lead to Day Zero.

“Worst hit areas in Modjadji and Greater Letaba are already receiving tankered water to alleviate besieged communities from a desperate situation,” the department said.

After the heavy rains that soaked most parts of the country recently, scorching temperatures returned with towns such as Upington, Lephalale, Phalaborwa and Thohoyandou reaching a maximum 40 degrees Celcius.

According to the South African Weather Services, the heat wave is expected to continue until this weekend when scattered thundershowers fall in areas like Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Despite the heavy rains in KwaZulu-Natal, the department said most towns that fall under Mkhanyakude and Zululand continue to experience acute water shortages.

“Jozini residents, about 200km north of Durban, have been without potable water for months because of the absence of rain. The average dam level in the region is estimated at 47.6% while the areas that receive much rainfall in the past weeks have zoomed to 70.3%,” the department said.

The Vaal Dam in Gauteng is stable at 67% while smaller dams in Pretoria are overflowing.

The Bronkhorstpruit Dam, east of the capital city received much of the recent rains and has gone up to 75.9% while Bon Accord has gone up to 108.4%

Against the background of unpredictable weather patterns, the department has appealed to all water users to continue saving water and use it sparingly.

The department encouraged rural communities to take advantage of heavy rains in their respective villages and practise water harvesting. – SAnews.gov.za