Knysna enduring weeks without water as Gift of the Givers steps up to plug service delivery leaks
Some Knysna residents have been without water for 14 days while several reservoirs, including the Khayalethu reservoir, undergo preparatory cleaning.
A deadline was given for this weekend for all major reservoirs within the area to be up and running, said Knysna Municipal Manager Ombali Sebola in a press release statement on 4 December.
“I must reiterate that every effort is being made to resolve this situation as fast and sanitarily as possible, to restore this service to the affected areas,” said Sebola.
Currently, the affected areas are the northern suburbs east of Khayalethu up to Dam se Bos, according to Peter Bester, a DA ward councillor in Knysna.
The affected wards have been divided into five zones to streamline the delivery of water.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Knysna Municipality given two-week deadline to solve unchecked raw sewage spillages
“Water trucks will continue to deliver safe, clean water to these areas throughout the process,” said Sebola.
NGO steps up
Additionally, as of 29 November, Gift of the Givers began deploying water trucks to the affected areas. These include Slangepark and Zizamile in Sedgefield, Hornlee Knysna, Dam Se Bos Knysna, Nekkies Knysna and Khayalethu in Knysna, said Mario Ferreira, a volunteer for Gift of the Givers.
“We estimate (about) 15,000 people making use of our trucks on a daily basis,” he said. However, demand outweighs the supply significantly, he stressed.
“We deliver up to over 100,000 litres per day, but we are talking of about 100,000 people staying in the area,” said Ferreira.
George Municipality, Overstrand Municipality, Garden Route District Municipality and Hessequa Municipality have assisted with the supply of water as well, said Sebola.
“We struggle to do cooking, washing or going to the toilet,” said Jowellen Boesak, a resident in Nekkies Oupad.
Boesak is currently able to carry only 40 litres to his household daily and stated he has been doing this for about three weeks.
Julie Ann Hoffmann, a principal at The Learning Tree pre-school in Khayalethu said the school has been without water since Monday last week.
The school currently has 90 children attending between the ages of 2 – 6 years old, with an additional 10 staff members, said Hoffmann.
“After contacting the municipality for help through various channels, no help was forthcoming. Our first help was from Gift of the Givers who came on Monday morning this week,” she said.
Additionally, Hoffman states that the municipal trucks are intermittent at best and people wait for hours in queues till late at night. Water would also have to be boiled before.
“We are [now] part of the community and have distributed bottles of donated water by Knysna residents to people we know in our neighbourhood who need help. We also ensured that we had enough water to provide a safe environment for the children we care for on a daily basis,” she said.
Betty Linda, a resident from Khayalethu, has experienced similar grievances and has been without water for two weeks.
“My biggest concern is that we are going to end up with diseases like cholera if we carry on like this,” she said.
Linda lives with her husband and two children and can carry between 60 – 80 litres of water to her household.
“I carry buckets on my head and my eight-year-old helps to carry five-litre bottles,” she said.
Decontamination of reservoirs
“It takes approximately three days per reservoir for decontamination to be complete,” said Bester.
After these three days, an additional process of water testing would commence to certify the water is safe to drink.
However, it took the municipality 10 days to pull the trigger on getting these reservoirs cleaned, said Bester.
“You need to act, and you need to act very quickly. It is not humane for people to be this long without running water,” he said.
Daily Maverick sent questions to Knynsa municipality but no response was received by the time of publication. DM