Water department fast tracks plans to deal with country's water woes

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Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. (Sarel van der Walt, Netwerk24)
Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. (Sarel van der Walt, Netwerk24)

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has directed her department to fast track interventions in areas where dam levels have dropped significantly across the country.

Some of the country’s water reservoirs are losing 1% of stored water week-on-week.

In a statement, the department said it has identified areas in all the provinces which were either on the brink of a drought or where water reservoirs weren’t keeping up with the demand.

The statement painted a grim picture of the water situation in some parts of the country.

According to the department’s latest dam level report, "levels have dropped from 73.3% in the same period last year to 60% this week", signalling a 10% loss in 12 months.

READ: Eastern Cape to declare drought a disaster

The interventions announced by Sisulu include: completing the construction of water projects; the refurbishment of dysfunctional boreholes in drought-stricken areas; assigning a team of specialists for rapid intervention in identified areas; and addressing dysfunctional water works.

New District Model

"In the Eastern Cape alone, the department will drill and equip boreholes in drought-stricken Graaff-Reinet and bring Xonxa Dam in Queenstown online in order to supply water to the town.

"Lusikisiki is earmarked for an increase of water supply by upgrading the local water treatment works. The construction of Zalu dam will be prioritised to relieve the current water challenges," Sisulu said.

Sisulu said the interventions were in line with the government’s New District Model of aligning integrated service delivery across the three spheres of government, within the next 18 months.

According to the department, their scientific research has pointed to a rain scarce summer up to mid-December. The below-average rainfall predicted would be accompanied by hot temperatures, thereby raising evaporation levels.

READLaudium in 'crisis' after three days without water

Additional water supply

The department has also sourced funds through its Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) to facilitate the bulk supply of water and equipment for boreholes in Qwaqwa, Free State.

The area is facing water challenges after the dam levels at Fika Patso plummeted to 10%. Currently, local communities rely on water from boreholes, while additional water supply projects are being constructed.

Other areas that are affected by water scarcity and that have been identified for intervention are Butterworth, Lusikisiki, Port Alfred and Alfred Nzo in the Eastern Cape; as well as Aggeneys in the Namakwa District of the Northern Cape.

In Limpopo, the areas include Tzaneen, Mogalakwena, Modimolle, Bela Bela, Thabazimbi and Polokwane.

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