The water shortage in Barberton, Mpumalanga, is so critical that the Mbombela Municipality (Nelspruit) is set to ask the Ehlanzeni District Municipality to declare a part of the town a disaster area.
Municipality spokesperson Joseph Ngala said the town's main water source, the Lomati Dam in the Makhonjwa mountains that lies between Barberton and the Bulembu border post with Swaziland, was currently only about 20% full.
"The only other water source is the Noordkaap water purification plant on the Queen River, but this is not enough to supply the town's water needs."
Water restrictions have been in place for about four months.
Due to the sharp drop in the dam's water levels, Barberton is now only allowed to purify 50% of the normal daily quota.
Emjindini, which borders Barberton, is currently the hardest hit by the water shortage.
DA councillor Steve Schormann said large parts of Emjindini had low water pressure and other areas were currently without any water.
"We had a meeting with the senior management of the municipality as well as the district municipality to try and get Emjindini declared a disaster area."
'All we can do now is pray for rain'
Schormann said the Mbombela Municipality was looking at various options to relieve the crisis.
These included the possibility of erecting JoJo tanks, fixing some of the town's boreholes and revamping a water extraction point at the local rugby club.
"Although the option of erecting of JoJo tanks [is] being looked at, the main problem is that we don't have water available to fill these tanks," said Ngala.
In the meantime, the management of the Barberton High School repaired its borehole and could thus supply water to residents who needed it.
Schormann advised residents, however, to limit themselves to only 50 to 60l per extraction.
According to Ngala, the council was also busy with maintenance on the Saddleback pipeline which runs from the Lomati Dam to Barberton.
"We are urging residents to assist the municipality in this time of crisis. Don't fill up swimming pools and don't water any gardens. All we can do now is pray for rain," he said.