Water crisis in South Africa reaches breaking point
Kaveel Singh, News24
Durban - South Africa’s water woes are reaching a breaking point, with the department of water and sanitation set to address the pressing matter on Sunday.
Minister Nomvula Mokonyane will address the now burgeoning crisis that has depleted many municipalities and the agriculture sector since last year, Rand Water spokesperson Justice Mohale said.
Mohale said in a statement that persistent high temperatures in Rand Water’s area of operation continued to strain its bulk water supply system in the country's hub, Johannesburg.
“The lack of rainfall in Gauteng is exacerbating the situation. The high water demand will cause localised problems in the City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane and the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality. All consumers must use water responsibly and sparingly.”
Other areas in the country have been hit harder, though. One of those is the iLembe District located north of Durban. Here residents have often been left without running water for up to three days at a time.
Commenting on the now 50% supply restriction, iLembe mayor Welcome Mdabe said on a normal day, they supplied around 17 million litres of water.
“But currently we can only supply nine million litres a day. As a district we are not in a position to open and shut water supply at certain times as this results in damage to equipment. Water supply will therefore be reduced. Some areas will receive water and some will not. Places on high ground will suffer mostly in the late evening when water usage is low,” said Mdabe.
Areas of KZN hard hit
Another hard hit municipality was the Harry Gwala District, which is supplied by the Ixopo Dam. The KZN MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has already had to intervene.
The dam was at last count dipping to a critically low level of 30%.
“Water production in the Ixopo Dam will be reduced from 2.8Ml/d to 2.5Ml/d as of today. Harry Gwala district has been in discussions with farmers upstream who have three dams to release immediately, but even with that plan it is necessary to implement water restrictions until the situation returns to normality,” said the MEC.
“As KZN Cogta we maintain that the current drought crisis requires all citizens of the province to play their part in conserving water. It is everybody’s business and government and sector stakeholders cannot conserve it alone. The department has contingency plans to ensure that no resident will go without water, even when the taps begin to run dry” added Dube-Ncube.
Umgeni Water corporate stakeholder manager, Shami Harichunder, said the water parastatal, which supplied much of KZN’s bulk water, understood the challenges but could not do much to assist.
“We can only supply what we have. Until more rain comes through we will be left in this crisis. There has been national and provincial intervention in the form of funds but realistically, water is what we require to curb this. As usual we are urging consumers to please understand this crisis and be wary of [their] usage.”