Eastern Cape’s Amathole district: Taps in drought-stricken region could run dry within a few months

By Tembile Sgqolana 22 July 2021

Drought plagues the Eastern Cape as dam levels drop. (Photo: Estelle Ellis)

Dam levels in the Amathole district in the Eastern Cape have reached their lowest levels.

Tembile Sgqolana

With less than normal annual rainfall occurring in the region, dam levels in the Amathole district in the Eastern Cape have reached their lowest levels, which could result in taps running dry in parts of the region.

Amathole District Municipality (ADM) spokesperson Nonceba Madikizela-Vuso said Butterworth will run out of water in October if there is not significant rainfall soon.

“However, in Kei Mouth, Adelaide and Debe Neck the water supply may dry up sooner than that,” she said.

The water levels in dams feeding the affected areas have decreased since last year. According to the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Gcuwa Dam had dropped from 68.8% last year to 44.2% last week.

The Debe Dam level has steadily declined – it stood at 15.6% last year, last week it stood at 5% and this week at 4.9%. The Bridle Drift Dam level was 40.3% last year; it had dropped to 24% last week and was 23% this week. The Nahoon Dam level decreased from 52.3% last year to 35% last week. This week the dam level decreased further to 34%.

Madikizela-Vuso said the ADM was encouraging communities to preserve “this precious and scarce resource” by using it sparingly and ensuring that no infrastructure vandalism occurs.

She added that the ADM has solutions for water provision across the district. 

“These include the drilling and equipping of boreholes across the district, [and] water carting, which is not without its challenges as it is not sustainable due to limited financial resources and the fact that our district is rural and vast.” 

She said a long-term solution would be the construction of the R2.5-billion Foxwood Dam. This will provide relief to approximately 30,000 households in Raymond Mhlaba.

Other solutions include:

  • Upgrading water treatment works (WTW) and constructing a pipeline from Sandile Dam to Peddie, at an estimated cost of R1.5-billion. This will provide about 75,000 people with access to clean water.
  • The extension of the Kei Road WTW and Bulk Pipeline in the Great Kei area. This will cost R1.1-billion and will provide relief to approximately 40,000 people. 
  • The construction of a dam and WTW for Sundwana Regional Water in Mbhashe. This will cost in the region of R650-million. 
  • An amount of R724-million had recently been secured for the implementation of the Ngqamakhwe Regional Water Supply Scheme project in Mnquma, which will benefit about 78,534 people in Ngqamakhwe and 44,000 people in Butterworth and surrounding areas. 
  • The ADM has tabled a proposal for an aqua-solar hybrid power plant and a seawater desalination plant. The estimated cost of this is R5.2-billion. DM/OBP
Absa OBP

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  • So much talk, so many fingers in the pie, taxes are raised, rain falls – but what has actually been accomplished?

    It feels like “click bait” for funding, like the “Day Zero” DA campaign. Raise taxes, target domestic consumers while letting the water wasters in industry and farming off scot free.

    Port Alfred has been out of water for a year – and it had a desalinsation plant, which was decomissioned by local governemnt, and literally stolen and looted to nothing.

    Where are the new dams? Pipelines? Desalinsation plants?

    What about improved town planning, to use sea water at coastal cities for sewrage instead of drinking water?

    So much “green” climate talk aimed at milking the same old cows.


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