Water crisis deepens

2018-01-31 06:01
Member of Mayoral Committee for Infrastructure and Engineering Masixole Zinto and NMB Executive Mayor Athol Trollip at the prayer session and media briefing held at the Churchill Dam last week. Photo:THANDI SETOKOE

Member of Mayoral Committee for Infrastructure and Engineering Masixole Zinto and NMB Executive Mayor Athol Trollip at the prayer session and media briefing held at the Churchill Dam last week. Photo:THANDI SETOKOE

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IN as much as “Day Zero” is not on the immediate horizon in Nelson Mandela Bay, Executive Mayor Athol Trollip has appealed to residents to use water conservatively. This after the metro’s dam levels remain relatively low.

Last week members of the council, together with religious and traditional leaders, held a prayer service at the Churchill Dam.

Speaking at the service Trollip said the gathering was aimed at showing the public the gravity of the water crisis as well as calling for God’s intervention for much-needed rain.

“The one benefit, if there is any, about what’s happening in Cape Town is that South Africans now understand what Day Zero is. Last year people spoke about it but didn’t believe it. Now, people speak about it because they understand what the consequences are and if you start thinking of the consequences, one realises that they are imaginable. If we run out of water, we are in great trouble,” Trollip said.

The overall dam levels were at 27.13% at the end of December last year. A year before that they were at 58%, which is a difference of 31%, Trollip added.

He said the municipality’s target for water use was 250 mega litres (ML) per day, while the water usage per person was 50 litres daily.

“In November we used 280 ML and in December 287 ML, so we are not anywhere near where we want to be.”

The mayor, however, commended Bay residents for heeding to the call of saving water after the city was declared a disaster area last year.

“We have seen a reduction of water usage in Nelson Mandela Bay and for that I want to thank every single person. There was only a 7% increase in the use of water in December last year to what we used in November, bearing in mind that December is the month where we had a record number of visitors coming to our city.”

Responding to mitigating measures in place to prevent Day Zero, NMB Water and Sanitation Director Barry Martin listed three significant interventions, which included a communication drought campaign and the maximisation of the Nooitgedacht water and borehole exploration.

“Phase three of the Nooitgedacht water scheme is currently underway. Construction has commenced and is scheduled for completion in March next year. On completion, the works will be able to produce 160 ML daily consistently and 210 ML daily on peak,” Martin explained.

While Nooitgedacht is being implemented, it will cater for the metropolitan areas in the western and northern parts of the city, as additional water is required there and it is also the area where regular drought occurs.

“Our dams provide water to the southern and western parts of NMB, from KwaNobuhle through to Despatch into the northern suburbs and to the southern and western suburbs. If the water runs out in the dams, those areas are going to be the first areas to run out of water,” Martin said, adding that the Kouga Dam had water until April if there is no significant rainfall, while Groendal Dam had enough water to last until December.

At the time of going to print on Monday, the Kouga Dam level was at 9.23%, Churchill at 18.94%, Impofu at 42.91% and Groendal at 51.8%.

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