Don't panic about Western Cape 'drought disaster' - Zille

2017-05-22 17:31
Berg River above the dam in May 2017. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Berg River above the dam in May 2017. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

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Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has declared the entire province a disaster area in an attempt to prevent it from running out of water.

It would allow the province to accelerate the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre’s "Avoiding Day Zero", a strategy to ensure taps did not run dry, Zille said in a statement on Monday.

The disaster declaration would be gazetted during the week after the provincial cabinet and Zille signed it last week.

The Karoo and West Coast municipalities were declared disaster areas in January 2016. It has now been extended to the entire province.

READ: Western Cape declared disaster zone over drought

Zille said the declaration was no cause for panic. It would allow the province additional powers of intervention and would empower it to reprioritise funding. A total of R27m had already been re-allocated to areas which were declared local disasters.

The province planned to drill boreholes at hospitals - starting in the city - and schools in high-risk, water-scarce areas.

"Avoiding Day Zero" would involve managing water supply, winter rainfall, and groundwater sources such as boreholes and the Table Mountain aquifer.

The province would ask for money from national treasury if it was needed.

An inter-departmental committee, chaired by Local Government MEC Anton Bredell, would meet regularly to assess threats and recommend interventions.

Speaking to News24 from London, Economic Opportunities and Agriculture MEC Alan Winde said the disaster area was declared in the province’s winter rainfall months because rainfall had been below expectation.

"We are being told that we should’ve had a lot more rain in this season already. This declaration is for further intervention to avoid taps running dry," he said.

Winde said his department would help farmers with animal feed. Zille urged residents to continue saving water and to adhere to water restrictions.

 

Read more on:    anton bredell  |  helen zille  |  alan winde  |  cape town  |  drought  |  water crisis  |  water
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