Parts of East Cape battle with drought

PARTS of the Eastern Cape are battling with severe drought conditions, with the Joe Gqabi District Municipality already declared a disaster area.

Although Nelson Mandela Bay’s dams are at a combined 99.97% capacity, the municipality has requested residents to conserve water for as long as possible.

Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said the municipality had been monitoring the water situation in the Eastern Cape and that the Bay was not affected by any water shortages.

However, according to the Department of Water Affairs, drought conditions in the northern and eastern parts of the province are developing rapidly.

Water services authorities need to monitor their water resources so that timely water restrictions can be introduced to carefully manage limited resources and mitigate the impact of the drought.

Water and Environmental Affairs spokesman Sputnik Ratau said: “If the water restrictions are not effective, then water rationing will become the order of the day.

“This is usually achieved through water cuts for a period of the day, but this is not desirable as it causes air-locks and water-hammer when the water pressure is restored. This causes water leaks to develop.” Ratau said areas worst affected in the province included:

  • Burgersdorp, where dams and ground water levels are low;
  • Aliwal North, which has low river flows;
  • Jamestown, where dam and river are flowing low;
  • Rhodes, where dam and river flows are low;
  • Rossouw, where ground water levels are low, and
  • Maclear, where dam levels are very low.

Other areas where ground water schemes are failing include the Nyandeni Local Area, the Mhlonthlo Local Area and the Ngquza Hill Local Area.

In the Chris Hani District Municipality, all seven local areas claim to have lower than normal ground water yields, Ratau said.

“In the Alfred Nzo District at Matatiele, one dam has run dry and at Ntabankulu a municipal dam is nearly dry.

“In the Amathole District Municipality, in the Dutywa local area, municipal dams are dry and are relying on limited ground water and water carting.

“In Camdeboo Municipality, Graaff-Reinet has challenges with water quality as a result of the low dam levels.”

Ratau said at this stage water from the Gariep Dam released to the province had not been affected.

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