SA on water crisis watch

2018-01-25 12:30 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - The water crisis and its associated impacts are causing critical problems for most of South Africa. 

According to a report by Africa Check, South Africa has less water per person than our neighbours Botswana and Namibia, and although 88% of SA households have access to water, only 50% of homes have piped water. We are also the 39th 'driest' country in the world.

Besides Cape Town, some of the country's other cities are also dealing with severe drought as dams have hit an all-time low. 

'Water crisis in the Nelson Mandela Bay deepening' 

The water crisis in the Nelson Mandela Bay is getting worse as dam levels across the Bay have dropped drastically, with at least one metro and numerous towns at risk of running out of water.

On 5 January it was reported that the dam levels were currently at 26,94% and according to the city's member of the Mayoral Committee for Infrastructure and Engineering, Masixole Zinto, the recorded levels - which supply drinking water to the metro - were at the “lowest ever”, as compared to 31% that was recorded in 2010. 

“Although the City is putting all the efforts to cut water loss and usage, lack of rain has not helped," she says. 

SEE: Nelson Mandela Bay dam levels hit an all-time low of 26.94%

At the moment the Nelson Mandela Bay metro municipality’s combined dam capacity is 25.17 percent.

Individually‚ the Kouga dam is at 7,71%‚ Churchill Dam at 18,71%‚ Impofu Dam at 43,47%‚ Loerie Dam at 86,55% and Groendal Dam at 51,80%.

In terms of reducing water in the metro, stricter measures have been introduced and millions of rand have been pumped into improving water distribution infrastructure and clamp down on water leaks. 

“More plumbers have been employed, with private sector resources pulled in to augment,” Zinto adds. 

Level 1 water restriction in Johannesburg 

The City of Johannesburg says Level 1 water restrictions in the city are still in place since from March last year‚ despite the province having enjoyed some rain this summer.

Minister of Environment and Infrastructure services, Nico De Jager, says  “City of Johannesburg residents are requested to reduce their water consumption patterns as water usage has increased at an alarming rate and this is of serious concern given the recent heatwave we have been experiencing since the beginning of 2018 in Gauteng.

“With Level 1 restrictions‚ watering of gardens is not allowed between 06:00 and 18:00 in summer months. Furthermore‚ it is not allowed to wash paved areas and driveways using hose pipes‚” says De Jager. 

ALSO SEE: #CapeWaterCrisis: 'Privileged Capetonian's guide' to the water crisis will have you laughing then crying

Dam levels in Gauteng remain at 94,3%. In the Free State dam levels are at 66,1% with the Vaal Dam at 80%. The worst dam levels are in KwaZulu-Natal which are at 49,6%‚ Eastern Cape dams are at 59,6% and the Western Cape dams are at 26,6%.

Northern Cape dams are at 76,6%‚ North West dams are at 68,7%‚ Limpopo dams are 65,7%. - See News24 coverage.

Day Zero in Cape Town 

In Cape Town, dam levels have dropped by 1,4%, which means that 'Day Zero' has moved closer by nine days. Instead of the 22 of April, it will now be on the 12 of April 2018.

SEE: #CapeWaterCrisis: Spotlight on groundwater as Day Zero moves up 9 days

Each person in Cape Town has been limited to 50-litres of water usage per day and asked to reduce shower times to under 90-seconds, no more than two times a week. 

For the City, 'Day Zero' will see the reality of taps running dry and residents having to queue for water.

Speaking at a media briefing held at the Cape Town Civic Centre on 18 January, the city's executive mayor, Patricia De Lille says "The people still abusing and wasting water seem to have it in their minds that day zero just can't happen or the City's seven augmentation projects, set to produce around 200 million litres per day, will be enough."

However, "it was never going to be enough to stop 'Day Zero'". 

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