Comprehensive plan in place to deal with drought crisis

29 Apr 2021 in Where We Govern

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality is putting shoulder to the wheel to deal with the devastating drought crippling our region, affecting our residents and threatening the very viability of this great Metro.

We understand that without water, all else fails.

It was therefore with shock and dismay that, when we returned to govern the Metro in December last year, we discovered that the previous ANC-led Coalition of Corruption had let critical water projects grind to a halt over the past two years.

Even when they were given conditional grants by national government for drought mitigation measures, totalling R183 million rand, they failed to spend it and national treasury took it back!

The greatest risk to the Metro currently is that our dam levels continue to plummet and are currently sitting at just 13%.

Roughly half of the water consumed in the Metro comes from our dams, and should we no longer be able to extract water from the dams, certain areas across the Metro will experience major water disruptions.

The Democratic Alliance and our coalition partners have been hard at work behind the scenes, to get a comprehensive understanding of which areas are at greatest risk, and what key interventions are needed to minimise the impact to our residents.

We are acutely aware of the poor state of our bulk water infrastructure, and we are prioritising the repair and maintenance thereof. This is no small task, as resources are limited, but we understand exactly how critical it is that we address these issues.

One of our top priorities has been addressing the multitude of leaks across the Metro.

Through these interventions, real water losses have dropped from 39% as at June 2020, to 29,4% as at 28 February 2021. Our dedicated teams of plumbers are working around the clock to bring this number down even further.

This is an ongoing challenge due to aging infrastructure. Often as one leak is repaired, another takes its place. The municipality is identifying aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced, but this will take time.

We appreciate residents reporting leaks to us. Every drop counts and we encourage all our residents to keep on reporting leaks to our call centre on 0800 20 50 50.

We have also been looking at ways to mitigate the water disruptions to our residents, should the dams run dry. This includes rerouting water from the Nooitgedacht supply zone to supply the western regions of the Metro.

This includes the conversion of the Grassridge Reservoir into a temporary water treatment facility, producing an extra 35 megalitres of potable water a day.

The municipality has also been working to identify extra water sources, such as groundwater from boreholes around the Metro, to augment water supplies.

Water levels at the Impofu Dam are already below that which can be extracted, so the municipality has deployed pump barges to access this dead storage capacity.

We cannot beat this crisis on our own – we need to partner with you our residents. The average daily water consumption in the Metro is sitting in excess of 301 million litres a day. We need to reduce this to at least 250 million litres a day, if we are to make any impact in the rate at which our dams are depleting.

If we continue on our current trajectory of water usage and receive no rains in our catchment areas the following projected timelines of dams running dry will come to fruition;
1 July – Kouga Dam will run dry
1 August – Churchill Dam will run dry
1 October – Impofu Dam will run dry
1 December – Groendal Dam will run dry

The municipality will be rolling out a comprehensive communications campaign to inform residents of the critical need to save water. To this end a dedicated tab on the Municipal website will be launched today to provide residents with all information pertaining to the water crisis such as; dam levels, water usage and water saving tips.

We will also be rolling out higher level C water tariffs for residential, commercial and industrial, as well as institutional and government consumers.

We will also begin the roll out of water restrictors to the highest water consumers in the Metro, in order to reduce wasteful consumption.

In the event that we do not get any favourable rains, and our dams do run dry, we are also putting emergency measures in place to provide water to those areas that will be worst affected, and where taps can run dry.

These measures include the establishment of standpipes and water tanks, where communities will be able to collect water for essential use.

Nelson Mandela Bay is facing a crisis, but we are a resilient people. We have faced adversity in the past and we have overcome.

We are all in this together, and now, more than ever before, we need to work together. The more water we save, the longer the water in our dams will last. The longer the dams last, the better the chance of rain to come and fill the dams and the more time we have until the delayed long term water augmentation projects are completed.

Together we can beat a dry July.