Nelson Mandela Bay mayor imposes more water restrictions as dam levels drop to 17.55%

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Nelson Mandela Bay has tightened its water restrictions.
Nelson Mandela Bay has tightened its water restrictions.
Ian Waldie/Getty Images
  • Severe drought continues to tighten its grip in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, with dam levels critically low, at a combined capacity of 17.55%.
  • The main dams, Kouga and Impofu, have not been full since November 2015, while the city continues to see high-water usage that exceeds the current water supply.
  • NMB is restricted by the Department of Water and Sanitation to extract 268 million litres a day only, but it  currently uses about 300 million litres a day.

Severe drought continues to tighten its grip in Nelson Mandela Bay metro with dam levels critically low with a combined capacity of 17.55%.

The main dams, Kouga and Impofu dams, have not been full since November 2015 while the city continues to see high-water usage that exceeds the current water supply.

Nelson Mandela Bay is restricted by the Department of Water and Sanitation to extract 268 million liters per day only but the city is currently using about 300 million litres per day, said mayor Nqaba Bhanga.

READ | Eastern Cape battles drought

Farmers in the region have had to buy feed for their animals, as there is no grazing grass due to the prolonged drought.

As one of the desperate measures to deal with the dire situation, the municipality announced further water restrictions on Tuesday.

The municipality will fit all household taps with flow meter restrictor devices that will limit the use of water to 500 litres a day, or 15 000 kilolitres a month per house.

READ | Tropical storm Eloise declared a national disaster in SA

Recent rains in the area had no effect on the dam levels, said the SA Weather Service.

Rain

"A lot more rain over a much wider area is needed to make a major difference to dam levels. Dam levels are critical with a combined capacity dropping to 17.55% and are dropping at just short of half a percentage point per week. The public must use water sparingly, as it affects us all," said SA Weather Service's Garth Sampson.

"It is interesting to note that the 24mm measured at Joubertina fell in about two hours, of which 16 mm were in one hour. The big question is whether this water is on the way to the Kouga. The answer is yes and no. As it fell in a wide area of the Baviaans, some will flow via Cambria and south of the Kouga Dam and into the sea, while some will flow past Rooihoek and Doodlsklip towards the Kouga Dam."

PICS | Cyclone Eloise causes flooding in Limpopo, KZN

The municipality said it had imposed the restrictions guided by Section 4 of the Water Services Act 108 (no 108 of 1997) and clause 31 of the Water and Sanitation Services by-law.

Bhanga said: "We can no longer treat the water situation as normal. It needs drastic measures to save our livelihoods. The eventuality of having dry taps has huge repercussions for the economy and our desperate need for the creation of jobs. We need to act now before it is too late."

He added that prolonged below average rainfall in the catchment areas had resulted in the water shortage.

  • As part of the restrictions, no municipal showers around recreational facilities will operate, while municipal swimming pools must be filled with suitable ground water;
  • All car washes must be closed if they have not achieved the requirement to recycle 60% of their water;
  • Us off municipal water supply will not be allowed to water gardens, wash cars, hose down walls or paving, top up pools, fountains or ponds.

This is unless the water is from a source other than municipal one, or the water is being used for firefighting purposes.

  • No application to build swimming pools will be approved and no use of automatic urinal flushing systems will be allowed.

The restrictions would remain in place until the metro turned a corner.

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