RESIDENTS have been asked to cut down to 50 litres of water per person per day as the water supply has reached a critical point with extraction at the Impofu Dam stopped due to prevailing drought conditions.This comes as the combined capacity of the major supply dams for Nelson Mandela Bay has now alarmingly fallen below 34%.During a visit to the Impofu Dam, the largest supply dam to the Nelson Mandela Municipality (NMBM), last week, senior director for Water and Sanitation, Barry Martin, said extraction of water at the dam had to stop as the lowest intake point of the dam is above the water level of the dam currently. “We might still be able to drop the level to 9% as we hope to float a barge on the dam with pumps fitted on it,” Martin said.Good rainfall at the end of last of week fell in the Churchill Dam’s catchment area, resulting in it overflowing. The overflow goes into the Impofu Dam, which is a much bigger dam than the Churchill Dam. The rise in the Impofu Dam was, however, very small.The Impofu Dam was at 16.79% as of Monday.Martin added, “The most critical issue is that we must cut back on water consumption. “We found that too many people use more than 1 000 litres of water a day. In a drought situation it is criminal. We need to stick to 50 litres per person per day.”MMC for Infrastructure, Engineering, Electricity and Energy, Andile Lungisa, said the necessary steps had now been put in place to follow the implementation of a drought declaration by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government in October. “Work is now being put into place to ensure that the necessary interventions are put in place to manage our water with a greater emphasis on conservation and the reporting of leaks.“Water is a precious natural resource to which our residents have a constitutional right to, which means we are reliant on sufficient rainfall, to deliver on this priceless resource for our constituencies,” Lungisa said.Since November 2015, the metro has been experiencing a dry period of below average monthly rainfall, resulting in declining dam levels and water storage capacities. In September 2018, good rains occurred in very specific catchments and the average dam levels increased from 17.82% to 53.03%. According to municipal spokesperson, Kupido Baron, this rainfall created a false sense of security as certain catchment areas did not receive significant rainfall and since then the average levels have continued to drop.The average levels of dams supplying the Nelson Mandela Bay metro stand at 36.24% of total combined capacity as of November 18.