Maverick Citizen


Daily outages likely as Nelson Mandela Bay starts water throttling during crisis

Daily outages likely as Nelson Mandela Bay starts water throttling during crisis
Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape, during a prayer service for rain held on 30 January. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay will have to battle daily water cuts unless consumption can be reduced to 50 litres per person per day. This, as the city cuts back on its extraction from near-empty dams to preserve the little that is left.

As the combined levels of the Nelson Mandela Bay supply dams dropped to 12.38% on Monday, the City introduced water throttling to bring down consumption. 

The Nelson Mandela Bay catchment area receives most of its rain in the winter, and Garth Sampson from the SA Weather Service said the rainfall prediction for those months is still below normal. The region is currently in the eighth year of a serious drought. The longest drought on record locally lasted 12 years.

While the city is supposed to be consuming 230 megalitres (230 million litres) of water, executive mayor Retief Odendaal said residents and businesses were using an average of 290 megalitres.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has not responded to requests to explain how the restricted amount of 230 megalitres of water was calculated.

Odendaal said the available water would be reduced to preserve what is left, as the city was predicted to lose its access to the dams by July.

“The metro will adopt a phased implementation approach to reduce abstraction from the Churchill and Impofu dams over the next three months. During the remainder of February, the metro will cut back water extraction to a restricted 30 million litres per day and balance water demand via reservoir storage. 

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“The City will also pump as much water as the system allows from the Nooitgedacht scheme via booster pump stations to assist with meeting the deficit.

“The effect of this is that should communities not heed the call to reduce water usage to 50 litres per person per day, water outages will be experienced on an ongoing basis and might become permanent should usage patterns not reduce,” Odendaal said.

He said the City’s Drought Crisis Joint Operating Centre has resolved to reduce water abstractions to restrictions gazetted by the Department of Water and Sanitation and close all public amenities. 

Available water levels in the Impofu Dam are currently at zero. Still, Odendaal said the metro would be moving the extraction barge 6km towards the Impofu Dam wall to access the last available water.

Other interventions decided at Tuesday’s meeting include that boreholes must be brought up to maximum production. Three sites are currently operational – Glendenning, Fairview and Fort Nottingham. The St George’s site will be operational by the end of February. Bushy Park boreholes will only be operational by the middle of March, and the Coega Kop boreholes and treatment plant by the end of March.

Odendaal said there were 2,241 water leaks which he had requested be fixed by the first week of March. DM/MC


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