Maverick Citizen


Amatola Water vows to pull out all stops to keep Makhanda water on for National Arts Festival

Amatola Water vows to pull out all stops to keep Makhanda water on for National Arts Festival
The City Hall in Makhanda, Eastern Cape. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

The Amatola Water Board has promised to do its best to keep the water on during the arts festival that takes place in Makhanda in July. The town, home to Rhodes University and the Eastern Cape seat of the High Court, has been beset by severe water problems. A boil-before-drinking notice remains in place after high levels of E. coli were found in tap water last month.

The Amatola Water Board has promised to “pay special attention” to keeping the water on during the National Arts Festival due to take place in Makhanda in July.

The town has been hit by water problems, with hundreds of outages being reported since January.

Amatola Water is the implementing agent for the Department of Water and Sanitation in the province.

Read more in Daily Maverick: R400m later, Makhanda is still facing a catastrophic water crisis

On Monday, a community meeting at the Makana municipal council chambers discussed the ongoing water crisis. This was attended by the Amatola Water Board, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Makana Municipality.

DWS provincial head Portia Makhanya and chair of the Amatola Water Board Pam Yako were joined by Mayor of Makhanda Municipality Yandiswa Vara in a session facilitated by council speaker Mabhuti Matyumza.

Amatola Water has been appointed to manage the four water treatment works in the municipality – Waainek, James Kleynhans, Alicedale and Riebeeck East.

Yako explained that in the area under the Makana Municipality, the current water demand was 18 megalitres a day. Current production stands at 14 megalitres a day, meaning a shortfall of four megalitres a day.

“Amatola Water Board’s interventions are directed at securing the current capacity of 14 megalitres per day whilst implementing solutions that are designed to both sustainably solve the shortfall and provide a surplus that can ensure better forward planning,” she said.

In a statement issued on Monday, Amatola Water said it appreciated the economic significance of the National Arts Festival and “special attention is being paid to ensure that during this time the event is not affected by water provision challenges”.

A boil-before-drinking notice remains in place in Makhanda after E. coli was detected at several testing points. The situation has improved slightly, but since there is still some contamination, the water remains unsafe.

Last week, four water trucks had to supply large parts of the town as the municipality continued to battle pump malfunctions. 

In its latest update, the municipality said: “Repairs of the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works pumps are in progress. It is anticipated that they will be available before the end of next week and the others the following week.”

The shortage of working pumps means the town remains on a “one day on, one day off” water provision schedule. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bill Gild says:

    How terribly sad that this iconic festival (after decades) appears to be nearing its end.

  • ak47.king ak47.king says:

    I’m surprised the festival is still happening here at all. 7 years ago there was already the joke around town during festival that this was the only place where you opened the tap and out came beef stock! The water situation during festival only became worse after that. There were whole days during festival where the Settlers Monument had no water whatsoever so all the toilets got clogged up. Settlers Monument is the main hub for performances during the festival. Makana has had years to sort the water situation out, but they just keep coming up with excuses. Sadly the attendance numbers have been declining since then, especially the overseas tourists who came over for the festival. The water ‘one day one, one day off” has been in place for over 6 years now and hasn’t been safe to drink for just as long.

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