Water-shedding, alongside load-shedding, awaits residents from Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole.
This follows as the metro’s water consumption has not dropped meaningfully in the past two years despite warnings and repeated pleas from the municipality, the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and other authorities.
The metro is now in its eighth year of the most severe drought in history with its supply dams at record low levels.
“Despite the best efforts of some businesses and residents, not enough people are taking the situation seriously and we are simply using too much water, at 50 megalitres (ML) per day over the target of 230ML/day,” said Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Denise van Huyssteen.
“The risk of areas of the metro intermittently running out of water remains extremely high, and Nooitgedacht is not the silver bullet everyone imagines it to be.”
She said security of investment and jobs, and an economic environment conducive to growth, was dependent on security of water supply and creating a water-resilient future for the metropole.
The business chamber welcomed the municipality’s announcements last week on progress of the R1.2 billion water augmentation and drought mitigation plan by the metro and the Department of Water and Sanitation.
Van Huyssteen said while phase 3 of the Nooitgedacht treatment works had increased the metro’s supply from the Gariep Dam, it was still not sufficient to meet demand and was not connected to the entire metro. Meanwhile, the planned phase 4 of Nooitgedacht would be a long-term mega project, requiring substantial national government funding.
Enforce bylaws, curb water theft
“We acknowledge that consumers lay the blame for the crisis on the lack of maintenance of the metro’s water infrastructure and are thus reluctant to play their part and reduce their water consumption. They have a valid point, but in order to create a water-resilient future, we all have to take responsibility and play our part. The municipality on the supply side and consumers on the demand side.
“Consumers who waste water, don’t re-use grey-water and, worst of all, fill tanks meant for rainwater with municipal water, are making the problem worse.
“It is time that the message sinks in that we live in a water-scarce area, and that we need to become water-resilient and self-reliant. This is not only up to government, but to all of us as individuals, households, and businesses,” she said.
Van Huyssteen emphasized that while the water augmentation measures currently underway are necessary and very welcome. The municipality needs also to get the basics right – enforce bylaws, curb water theft and vandalism of infrastructure, monitor and ensure correct meter readings, and fix leaks.
“It is unacceptable that 44% of our treated water is ‘non-revenue’ water, in other words it is stolen or wasted without being billed, and over 30% of this is due to leaks,” she said.
The business chamber’s water task team leader Basil Mugwagwa, said that in a resource-scarce environment, businesses need to be responsible by using fewer resources to achieve the same goals without compromising quality.
“Water can be harvested and used in ablutions and other grey water applications. Depending on what a company does in its processes, there is an array of functions where recycled water can be deployed,” said Mugwagwa.
– ISSUED BY NMB BUSINESS CHAMBER