Nelson Mandela Bay residents urged to drop water use to 50 litres a day

2018-01-26 22:30
Masixole Zinto (MMC for Infrastructure and Engineering) and Mayor Athol Trollip at the Churchill dam. (Derrick Spies, News24)

Masixole Zinto (MMC for Infrastructure and Engineering) and Mayor Athol Trollip at the Churchill dam. (Derrick Spies, News24)

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Port Elizabeth – Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay have been urged to use just 50 litres of water a day as the water crisis facing the city deepens, with the dam levels reaching an all-time low.

Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip addressed the media after leading a delegation of councillors and religious leaders to the Churchill Dam to pray for rain.

The combined capacity of the supply dams has dropped 31% year-on-year, and as of January 24, was at just 25.1%.

Trollip urged residents to curb water use to just 50 litres per person per day, and for the City to reduce its daily consumption to 250 megalitres.

Trollip said the metro would not see a Day Zero, as expected in Cape Town, as long-term steps had been taken to augment the City's water supply through the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme, which supplies water from the Gariep Dam.

Phase two of the scheme was recently completed and it now provides 130 megalitres of water per day at peak capacity. The treatment works are being further upgraded, with phase three expected to be completed early next year, increasing capacity to 210 megalitres a day at peak capacity.

R450m loan

Trollip said this water augmentation, coupled with borehole water and water being held in reserve, meant that the City would not run out of water, but that certain areas, specifically the southern and western parts of the metro, could face disrupted supply as their main supply was from the dams, and water would have to be rerouted to supply them.

Trollip noted that, due to the increase in water supply from the Nooitgedacht scheme, the municipality had been able to rest the Churchill Dam since July last year, after it dropped to just 7% capacity.


The Churchill dam. (Derrick Spies, News24)


Despite this, the dam has only recovered to 18% capacity over the past six months.  

Trollip said the City had resolved to take out a R450m loan to address the issue of non-revenue water, which is treated water that is not billed for.

A mid-term report submitted in council on Thursday said non-revenue water had reached 45% in the five months to November 2017. Water lost to leaks and failing infrastructure had also increased from 31% to 35%.

Trollip also noted that 28 000 households in the city were not metered, and said part of the funding would be used to install meters at these households. He said other measures included replacing meters older than 10 years – as the older meters get, the more likely they are to under-read usage – as well as reducing the water pressure in the reticulation system, as this reduced wastage.

Nelson Mandela Bay director for water services Barry Martin said if significant rains did not fall in the next six months, and consumers did not decrease consumption, the dams would run dry.

"The municipality is taking a hard line on the residents who are high water users. We have installed water consumption control devices in their homes. We are now targeting businesses who are not responding to our call of decreasing consumption with the similar action," said Martin.

Read more on:    athol trollip  |  port elizabeth  |  drought; water crisis

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