Water rationing, fixing major leaks, transporting water from new boreholes and doubling treatment capacity - these are the steps being undertaken to resolve the ongoing water crisis in the Makana Local Municipality, according to Minister of Water and Sanitation Gugile Nkwinti.
He said the pressing issue of reduced water treatment capacity was expected to be resolved by the end of March 2019.
News24 previously reported that the Sarah Baartman District Municipality in the Eastern Cape, which includes Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), was declared a local state of disaster. The declaration was made in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 and it was published in the Government Gazette of February 25.
In a parliamentary question, Cope MP Mosiuoa Lekota asked Nkwinti what the root causes of the water crisis in the Makana Local Municipality were and what steps the minister had taken to resolve the crisis.
Laying out the interventions in place to deal with the crisis, Nkwinti stated that "the department has embarked on various water conservation and demand management strategies which include rationing of water, dealing with major leaks, tankering (transporting water in tanker trucks) to high-lying areas and bottled water distribution in partnership with [NGO, The Gift of the Givers. In addition, alternative sources are being explored by drilling boreholes which are to be linked to the current systems across Makana Local Municipality, including Riebeeck East and Alicedale."
News24 previously reported that the Makana Municipality had given The Gift of the Givers the green light to start drilling boreholes as a medium-term solution to the water crisis.
Nkwinti, expanding on his department's interventions, said "the linkages of both the east and west water supply systems will enable access to reliable controlled/restricted supply to cater for the Makhanda communities during the drought period and will be fully functional by end of March 2019" .
He continued that "in dealing with the increased demands, the department has appointed Amatola Water Board to double the current treatment capacity of one of the treatment works from 10 ML/d (Megalitres Per Day) to 20ML/d to meet current and future demands until 2030".
The first of four phases will be completed at the end of March.
"This phase will allow pumping of treated water from the eastern side to the western side, which is currently at critical storage levels.''
Confirming previous reportage by News24, Nkwinti stated in his reply that "the root causes of the current water crisis in Makana Local Municipality are due to aged infrastructure, increased demand and some recent operational deficiencies and the current drought conditions" .
Nkwinti continued that "the latter has led to electrical failure and therefore disruption of plant operations has affected the town area but has since been fixed".
"The Eastern Cape provincial office is working very hard to ensure plant operations are restored to the maximum design capacity but it is partly functional and currently produces 50% of its capacity."
Noting that the treatment plant was running at half of its capacity, the minister added that "the work is to be completed by end of March 2019".