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Eastern Cape: Black water runs out of taps in drought-stricken Klipplaat

Eastern Cape: Black water runs out of taps in drought-stricken Klipplaat
Left: This is what water in Klipplaat looked like on 1 May 2021. Right: This is what the water looks like after the problem was fixed. (Photos: Supplied)

On Saturday, May 1 black water came out of taps in Klipplaat in the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality. The municipality said on Tuesday that it had fixed the problem, caused by ‘ageing infrastructure and the drought’.

When residents in Klipplaat, one of the most impoverished areas in the Eastern Cape, turned on their taps on Saturday they discovered that their water had turned black.

The Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality, based in Graaff-Reinet, has admitted that there was a problem with “black water” in Klipplaat’s taps. However, spokesperson Edwardine Abader said they sorted out the problem on the same day.

“Water interruptions occurred in Klipplaat as a result of low water levels and drought conditions. Whenever water quality problems occur, it is attended to on the same day.

“The water was muddy as a result of old infrastructure and low water levels,” she said.

Klipplaat is one of the areas in the Eastern Cape affected by an extreme drought. Residents are supplied with water in tanks as well as reticulated water, which is not always available. Last year Gift of the Givers drilled and equipped a borehole for the community.

Water quality issues in Klipplaat are a major problem, according to the latest integrated development plan produced by the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality.

“The water treatment works are understaffed and there are serious issues with the water quality,” the plan reads.

On Monday, the municipality announced that the water level in the Nqweba Dam, which provides water to Graaff-Reinet, was too low for water extraction to continue. The dam is only 8.8% full and the town is now again solely reliant on borehole water.

The water level of the Kouga Dam, which provides water to Nelson Mandela Bay and a number of smaller towns, including Hankey and Patensie where there are extensive citrus farming operations, was 4.37%, of which only 1.5% is estimated to be usable.

In Hankey and Patensie the water supply is turned off for six hours every day, from 9am to 3pm. Residents are encouraged to make use of water from the tanks that have been installed in the area to relieve the pressure on the dam.

The municipal manager of the Ndlambe Municipality, Rolly Dumezweni, said last week that the Golden Ridge Dam near Bathurst was empty. Bathurst residents are able to access municipal water between 6am and 10am every second day.

Dumezweni said that while a new pipeline had been laid from the Lushington River to the water treatment plant in Bathurst, there was no electrical connection point close to the water source and a generator had to be procured.

The Sarel Hayward Dam near Port Alfred is also empty. Water, drawn from alternative sources such as boreholes, is released daily from 6am to 10am, but there is insufficient water to get to the high-lying areas. Water is still being trucked from Boknes and occasionally from Kleinemonde to tanks around Port Alfred.

Work is continuing on two reverse osmosis plants for the area.

Water levels are critically low at some reservoirs in Kenton-on-Sea and Bushman’s River. DM/MC

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  • Ritchie Morris says:

    Good coverage Estelle. Keep up the water reporting. Unfortunately WATER is not highly regarded by leaders, managers and communities. Two quotes: “Water is the driving force of all nature.” -Leonardo da Vinci. “We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

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