Mpumalanga water crisis: disaster areas declared

2013-01-10 14:05

The Msukaligwa council in Ermelo has taken a resolution to declare sections of its township and the town, which are hit by serious water shortages as disaster areas.

Northern parts of Ermelo and the Wesselton township, which have about 45 000 households, have been without water for five weeks and three months, respectively, after the municipality’s dams ran dry.

The southern parts have been spared as they are connected to an Eskom pipeline that carries supply to electricity-generating stations. This draws water from another source.

The municipality blames the crisis on the lack of rain in the area that resulted in the Douglas Dam running out of water while WIllem Brummer Dam has only about 30% of its capacity left.

Msukaligwa spokesperson Surprise Ngcongo said the declaration meant that measures would be taken to resolve the situation.

Ngcongo said a joint operating committee (JOC) comprising representatives from the municipality, Mpumalanga corporative governance and traditional affairs, Gert Sibande District Municipality and the water affairs department had been set up to look into short- and long-term solution to the shortages.

“We’re supplying water through water tankers in the affected areas for now,” Ngcongo said.

“JOC members have also agreed that JoJo Tanks and water carts should be provided to residents and that water restriction programmes be implemented as part of promoting civic responsibility in the community, to urge them to use water sparingly – like refraining from using hose pipes to wash their cars and so forth,” he added.

Ngcongo said water affairs’ approval of a bulk water supply grant for Msukaligwa would be a long-term solution to the crisis.

The water crisis was part of disgruntled Wesselton community members complaints in December when they went on the rampage and burned two vehicles.

The Ermelo Business Association has meanwhile accused the municipality of failing to plan ahead as it was clear about five years ago that the town could be hit by water shortages.

“There are serious problems with infrastructure, which is now very old, and it affects water supply,” said association spokesperson Janice De Jager.

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