Further restrictions on extracting from dams supplying water to Nelson Mandela Bay may be imposed soon, meaning that dealing with the drought crisis will become much more difficult.
These are the words of Nelson Mandela Bay mayor, Retief Odendaal, during a recent media briefing to discuss the municipality’s water augmentation projects, amounting to more than R1,2 billion.
Now officially in its eighth year of the drought, the situation in the metro is becoming more severe by the day, with dam levels decreasing steadily.
“At our meeting [recently] with the DWA (Department of Water Affairs) they advised that there will be a directive given to the city soon and we anticipate that it would be further restrictions on our extractions from the dams,” said Odendaal.
In the meantime, the metro has been working tirelessly on several water augmentation projects and according to water and sanitation director, Barry Martin, by the end of March this year nine out of 10 of these projects will be completed.
Some of the projects include the construction of the Bushy Park, St George’s Park and Moregrove Wellfields, as well as the KwaNobuhle Supply Pump Station, among others.
Martin also mentioned that Nooitgedacht Phase 4 is a viable option but that it would take a lot of money and time to get there.
“Nooitgedacht Phase 4 is an absolute must, but the problem is that the pipeline must be upgraded and some other major upgrades need to take place.
“This is a mega project with significant costs that will be much more expensive than Phase 3.
“A new balancing dam would have to be constructed at Scheepersvlakte; three more pump stations and one reservoir would have to be built and a 75km long pipeline laid. This would take approximately five years,” he explained.
Another project currently in the works is the upgrading of the barges at the Impofu Dam.
Since this dam recently reached its lowest level ever, since its construction 40 years ago – with less than 1% water available for extraction and approximately 7% being dead storage, the barges need to be moved downstream before they start sucking mud.
“A six-kilometre-long pipeline has been laid towards the dam wall and a new barge constructed. Once power is connected, the municipality will be able to draw the dam down to approximately 3% of its storage capacity.”
Odendaal mentioned that with these projects, the municipality is not only catering for the current drought, but trying to find sustainable solutions for the next few decades.
“We need to change our water consumption lifestyles forever.
“There will be more frequent droughts and they will be more intense so we are planning for future droughts too, not just this one,” he said.
He added that the metro is diversifying its sources of potable water as a means of mitigating the effects of the current and future droughts.
“These groundwater schemes will reduce abstraction from the severely stressed Western dams, thereby preserving what little storage remains and developing a sustainable water supply resource for the future.
“A couple of years ago we also decided to ensure an integrated water supply. If worse comes to worst, we would be able to take from Nooitgedacht and reticulate to the rest of the metro, but critical to this integration is the Motherwell and Stanford Road Booster Pump Stations.
“We also need to be mindful of the fact that water consumption is still too high and demand must decrease. We can only see a change if the demand is lower, and every person sticks to 50l per person, per day,” said Odendaal.
“The only way we can successfully overcome this crisis is by working together – one drop goes a long way.”