Polokwane restricts water supply as concern over a day zero scenario grows

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(Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
(Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
  • Officials in Polokwane are concerned the city is fast running out of water.
  • The daily supply of water to Polokwane and surrounding areas has been cut by more than half.
  • Several water-based activities have been prohibited in an effort to prevent the scary prospect of a day zero scenario.

The Polokwane municipality has implemented stringent water restrictions following a worrying drop at the Ebenezer Dam, which is the main supplier of water to the city and several surrounding areas.

The dam level now stood at less than 13%. At this level, the water authority Lepelle Northern Water would have been able to abstract water until the end of September.

But earlier this week, executive mayor Thembi Nkadimeng said the Department of Water and Sanitation had since advised that the Ebenezer water scheme must operate at a reduced capacity to extend the supply of water up to the end of October.

It was against this backdrop that the water supply to the city and surrounding areas was reduced from 21 mega-litres per day to 10 mega-litres per day.

Nkadimeng warned there was no guarantee the water currently in the Ebenezer Dam would be available until the end of the next rainy season.

"Judging by the rate of increase in water levels at Ebenezer during the previous rainy season, the dam may not be a reliable source of water moving forward.

"This means there is an immediate need to reduce abstraction from Ebenezer Dam - even in future - to protect the source," Nkadimeng said.

ALSO READ | Polokwane municipal worker locks himself in truck, runs over officer and damages 7 vehicles

The restrictions implemented to push back a possible day zero scenario, included the prohibition of using hosepipes to water gardens and to wash paved areas in residential and business premises. 

Borehole water could also not be used for gardening purposes and the washing of vehicles was limited to registered car wash businesses.

A combination of factors, including increased urbanisation, population growth and ageing infrastructure developed decades ago, were identified as having negatively impacted the water supply.

However, Nkadimeng said groundwater development had currently been given the highest priority as a possible future source of water to surrounding rural areas.

"A thorough yield analysis of all the existing and newly identified bulk ground water supply resources was done and additional boreholes were drilled," she said.

She said pipes were being laid and water treatment plants constructed to gain access to ground water by March 2021.

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