Bloemfontein – Residents of Mangaung, including farmers, have been hit hard as the drought puts strain on water supplies, according to Free State's head of water and sanitation.
Dr Tseliso Ntili said dam levels in the province were between 30–40% on average, resulting in severe water restrictions.
Although some dam levels in Mangaung had shown a slight increase, rain had not brought much relief, he said.
On August 29, the Knellpoort Dam levels were at 40.2% capacity, which was an increase compared to 38.7% around this time last year, according to the department of water and sanitation.
Rustfontein Dam was at 27.2%, compared to last year’s 24.3%, while the Welbedacht Dam was at 106.9% capacity, an increase from last year’s 65.6%.
However, most dam levels in the province were below 30%.
"We have been monitoring our dams and at this stage we haven’t recorded enough rain. Most farmers draw water from rivers and dams, and now we told them that they shouldn’t take a lot of water," he said.
"We are entering into a rainy season, but it would still not be enough. Farmers will be the hardest people hit by water restrictions."
Ntili said residents were not allowed to water their gardens or wash their vehicles using hosepipes.
"They can use containers when they wash their vehicles and we are appealing to residents to use water sparingly and adhere to water restrictions during these challenging times – we can’t afford to waste water," said Ntili.
He warned that if residents did not adhere to the rules, the municipality would take action.
He said in areas such as the Kroonstad, Steynsrus, Viljoenskroon, Senekal, Ficksburg, Marquard, and Qwa-Qwa where water supply was running dry, the department was assisting with temporary storage reservoirs.
Jojo tanks were supplied to areas such as schools and clinics.
In June, a state of disaster was declared in all eight provinces, except Gauteng, due to the drought.