Polokwane faces water crisis 'due to operational challenges'

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A leaking water tap.
A leaking water tap.
Dylan Bush
  • Polokwane and surrounding villages face a water crisis.
  • Major reservoirs have been at 0% for several days, leaving the suburbs and surrounding villages dependant on water tankers.
  • Lepelle Northern Water says it is unable to supply water to the Polokwane municipality due to "operational challenges".

Polokwane and surrounding areas face a water crisis due to an apparent lack of infrastructure maintenance at the Ebenezer and Olifantspoort bulk water schemes.

The two schemes are run by the embattled Lepelle Northern Water (LNW), which is responsible for bulk water supply to Polokwane.

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Major water reservoirs have been at 0% for several days, leaving the suburbs and surrounding villages dependant on water tankers.

LNW spokesperson Simon Mpamonyane said the entity was currently unable to supply water to the Polokwane municipality due to "operational challenges".

"LNW has taken the municipality in its confidence in dealing with the situation to resolve the challenges and reaching lasting solutions to the benefit of residents and consumers," Mpamonyane said.

Heavy rains

However, Polokwane - the hub of economic activity in Limpopo - has been experiencing intermittent disruption of its water supply for more than two years.

At some stage, the area was without water for 14 consecutive days. The situation was blamed on the drought that gripped the province at the time.

But Mpamonyane said the current situation was exacerbated by the recent heavy rains that lashed the province.

He said the LNW has a contractual responsibility to supply 32 megalitres of water per day from the Ebenezer Dam, which was 12% during the drought.

An abstraction restriction was then imposed to sustain the dam level until the next rainy season.

"After heavy rains, LNW faced operational challenges at Ebenezer plant, which could not handle the high turbidity levels, resulting in less water being abstracted from the dam," he said.

"The condition contributed to less water being released to the supply areas, including reservoirs for Polokwane municipality," Mpamonyane added.

He described the situation as dire and regrettable.

He did not give an indication of when the situation will improve.

"LNW regrets finding itself in this situation and is doing everything to get out of this dire situation."

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