Gamtoos set for stricter water curbs

Loerie treatment works senior superintendent John de Kock stands on the banks of the Loerie Dam, where the water level fell to as low as 36% following a staggering 7% drop in a week due to a series of problems
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

Tougher water restrictions are expected to be implemented for farmers and residents along the Gamtoos River Valley from next month.

The Gamtoos Irrigation Board will have its annual meeting with the Department of Water and Sanitation in a week’s time to establish water allocation from the Kouga Dam.

“The bottom line is that the Kouga Dam currently stands at 18.4% and we cannot give people water we do not have,” the board’s financial and human resources manager, Rienette Colesky, said.

“So while we do not know what the new restrictions will look like until after the meeting, we anticipate them to be quite low.”

She said the restrictions, which were valid for a year, would come into effect on July 1. “A case can be made to alleviate the restrictions within the one-year period should the region get an abundance of rain, but only once the dam hits more than 70% capacity.”

In the meantime, the water supply from the Kouga Dam to the Loerie Dam has been shut down for maintenance work to be done on the canal between them.

“The Loerie Dam is a balancing dam from which water is supplied to Nelson Mandela Bay and the surrounding areas,” Colesky said.

“We made sure to extract enough water from the Kouga Dam, filling Loerie beyond its usual level, so that we have enough supply for the scheduled two-week maintenance period.

“The supply to Nelson Mandela Bay will continue as normal during this period.” According to the latest figures supplied by the department this week, the major storage dams supplying water to Nelson Mandela Bay are at a combined capacity of 35.7%.

At 18.4%, the Kouga Dam currently holds 23778 megalitres (Ml) while Loerie, at 46.5%, holds 1400Ml.

The Churchill Dam is at 10.77% (3795Ml), Impofu Dam 62.32% (65906Ml) and Groendal Dam 53.69% (6250Ml).

Dam levels as at 21 June 2017
Source: Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is still waiting to be declared a disaster area after mayor Athol Trollip signed a disaster declaration nearly a month ago.

However, municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said yesterday that the municipality already considered itself a disaster area.

“An application [to be declared a disaster area] has been made. Otherwise, from our side, the mayor has declared the municipal water supply situation a disaster,” Mniki said.

He said the municipality received about 115 water-related complaints a day, including complaints about burst pipes, leaks and a range of wastage issues.

One of the biggest setbacks for Nelson Mandela Bay’s water supply was the collapse of a major supply canal in the Sundays River Valley, just outside Kirkwood, on May 17.

A temporary canal was constructed within a week to restore the supply to the Nooitgedacht treatment facility.

Lower Sundays River Water User Association chief executive Harms du Plessis said they were waiting to meet with Water and Sanitation officials to find out when construction of the permanent canal would get under way.

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