Warning as dam levels drop

TOO LOW: The level of the Kouga Dam, which supplies water to parts of the metro and to the Kouga area, is alarmingly low
TOO LOW: The level of the Kouga Dam, which supplies water to parts of the metro and to the Kouga area, is alarmingly low

Urgent call on residents to save water as summer comes, writes Riaan Marais

The levels in dams that supply Nelson Mandela Bay with water are dropping, with the summer heat expected to make matters worse.

The growing concern has prompted the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to once again call on residents to use water sparingly, or face possible fines if careless water use continues.

The municipality’s ultimatum comes after the Gamtoos Irrigation Board – manager of the Kouga Dam that supplies parts of the city with water – said the summer would put the region’s dwindling water supply under severe pressure.

“In light of the continuing water shortages in the Eastern Cape it has become imperative that water restriction be imposed by the metro,” municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said.

Water restrictions came into effect in September in an effort to reduce water usage in the Bay by 15%.

Restrictions have been placed on the use of a hose pipe connected to a municipal water source to wash cars, water gardens or fill swimming pools, among others.

“The contravention of these restrictions is a criminal offence. Those not complying will be issued official notices and will receive fines once the fine schedule has been finalised,” Baron said.

The latest figures released by the department of water and sanitation last month regarding the four major supply dams to the city show:

  • The Kouga Dam was at 63.1% capacity;
  •  The Impofu Dam stood at 80.7%; and
  • The smaller Groendal and Loerie dams were at 77.4% and 20.3% respectively.

The board has appealed to residents and farmers in the dam’s supply region to be increasingly vigilant when it comes to water usage as summer approaches and warmer weather is expected.

The financial and human resources director of the board, Rienette Colesky, said besides supplying water to parts of the Mandela Bay and Kouga municipalities, their organisation was also responsible for supplying water to 250 farms, which is more than 7 400 hectares.

“Because the water usage from the dam has a direct impact on the economic activities in the Gamtoos Valley, it is vital to find the right balance between consumers’ needs and sustainable food security, development and conservation,” Colesky said.

“The Gamtoos Valley is known as the pantry of the Eastern Cape. With agri-tourism and farming activities in the valley ranging from citrus and vegetables to dairy and livestock, water is important to everyone and the conservation thereof a priority. The board will fulfil its responsibility in this regard to the letter.”

Farmers in the Gamtoos Valley create 10 000 employment opportunities when they receive their full allocated water quota.

As water restrictions are introduced, job losses ensue, according to a survey conducted by the board..

“With every 10% reduction in the water quota, 1 000 job opportunities are at risk,” the board’s chief executive, Pierre Joubert, said.

He said although his board did.

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