Editorial: Water crisis needs desperate action

Despite the continuous stream of stern warnings and appeals coupled to the sheer urgency of our water crisis, Nelson Mandela Bay has not achieved the savings and austerity to pull it back from the brink.

It is difficult to lay the blame squarely on any one factor, but it is abundantly clear that strategies to fix leaks, execute other essential maintenance, curb wastage and convince consumers to use less, have not been anywhere near as successful as hoped.

With dam levels now at the all critical point of a collective 45%, the city is now looking to be declared a water disaster area while we are faced with even tougher restrictions and the threat of radical measures like throttling valves and implementing forced water shedding.

There have undoubtedly been efforts made by a large section of residents to cut down on consumption wherever possible, but even these have failed to offset other underlying problems like the municipality only managing to reduce leaks slightly by 1% since December.

We are now faced with the dire consequences and, in again appealing to residents to cut back, municipal authorities surely need to dramatically shake things up from their side.

But the city also needs to tread carefully.

As infrastructure, engineering and energy committee chairwoman Annette Lovemore has warned, throttling valves poses the very real danger of collapsing an already fragile and compromised system.

It should therefore not even be contemplated.

What is patently clear is that the Bay is battling to keep up with the thousands of reports of leaks from the community with a shortage of plumbers and maintenance crew and teams currently having only half the manpower.

Funding is an issue here but surely this is one of the most critical areas which must be addressed if any significant savings are to be achieved.

That, and an even greater endeavour on the part of every citizen to be water wise to the hilt.

It has now got to the point where every drop actually does count.

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