Eastern Cape urged to conserve dwindling water resources

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Gcuwa Dam, the main supplier of water in Butterworth and surrounding areas, has very low water levels. Picture: Lubabalo Ngcukana
Gcuwa Dam, the main supplier of water in Butterworth and surrounding areas, has very low water levels. Picture: Lubabalo Ngcukana

The department of water and sanitation has called on the Eastern Cape to double down on its efforts to reduce the manner in which it consumes water and save the available water resources.

A weekly report released by the department paints a bleak picture of the available water in some areas of the province and a consistent decline of major dams, with Butterworth already on Day Zero.

The province has been hit by severe drought, which has resulted in the provincial cabinet declaring it a disaster.

Read: Cape relief: Day zero pushed back, national disaster declared

According to the report, the provincial water storage has waned to 49.6%, a sharp decline compared with the same period last year when water levels in the province were at 63.7%.

Areas where drought is severe include the districts of Amathole, Chris Hani, Joe Gqabi, Sarah Baartman and Nelson Mandela Bay.

The Amathole Water Supply System, with dams supplying water to Buffalo City and surrounding areas, has declined to an alarming 48.1%, as compared with the same period last when it was at 75.7%.

Some of the major dams in the system, such as Rooinkrantz Dam, declined to 33.6% last week, compared with 35.3% the previous week.

Sandile Dam decreased to 32.5% last week and Wriggleswade Dam declined to 40.1% last week, compared with 42.9% the previous week.

Dams such as Macubeni, Waterdown and Oxkraal are also declining week by week.

The Algoa Water Supply System, which supplies water to areas including Nelson Mandela Bay, has dwindled to 34.9%, a far cry compared with 54.5% during the same period last year.

Kouga Dam declined to 34.3% last week compared with 54.3% the previous year at this time; Impofu Dam is at a paltry 16.6%, while Loerie Dam dropped from 53.3% to 48.5% last week.

“Government in all spheres, entities, sector partners, civic society organisations, faith-based organisations, businesses and schools are urged to work together in ensuring that the province does not run out of water.

“The department of water and sanitation has started working with Amathole District Municipality in distributing water tankers in the drought-stricken Butterworth area as an immediate relief,” said Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the department.

The Amathole Water Supply System, with dams supplying water to Buffalo City and surrounding areas, has declined to an alarming 48.1%, as compared with the same period last when it was at 75.7%.

Two weeks ago the Eastern Cape executive council approved budget adjustments, a decision which was informed by “pressing provincial priorities, such as drought, which need urgent resourcing from government”.

The issue of drought and relief funding is expected to form part of this year’s mid-term budget.

Provincial treasury spokesperson Mzukisi Solani said the medium-term budget policy statement by finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko would take place at the Bhisho legislature on November 21.

Premier Oscar Mabuyane has declared the whole province a disaster area and set aside R120 million as relief funding.

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