Metro rises to water challenge

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is looking at everything from underground water sources to seawater desalination to weather the seemingly unending drought, mayoral committee member Annette Lovemore said last night.

Addressing about 100 residents at a Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (Wessa) information session hosted in the City Hall auditorium, Lovemore began her presentation – titled “Water: The Challenge” – in an upbeat mood, praising the national Treasury for allocating the much-needed funds for the completion of the Nooitgedacht low-level water scheme.

She said, however, that despite the site handover taking place on February 10, construction had yet to start due to SMMEs demanding their piece of the pie.

Amatola Water, which would oversee the construction, would have a meeting with the SMMEs tomorrow to resolve the impasse.

Lovemore said the municipality expected the overall capacity of the metro’s five supply dams to drop below the 50% mark by next week.

On March 7, a media conference would be held to inform residents of the potential implementation of stricter conditions.

Should the water capacity drop below 45%, the metro would be declared a disaster area, Lovemore said.

While the municipality was working on several water-relief projects in the metro over the next 10 years to alleviate the strain on the five supply dams, the simplest means to save water was to reduce its non-revenue water.

Non-revenue water is water that is lost before it reaches the customer.

These losses could be real losses (through leaks) or water losses (through theft or metering inaccuracies, among other things).

This non-revenue water cost the municipality more than R600-million between July and November.

“The municipality is submitting a non-revenue water 10-year business plan to the Treasury,” Lovemore said.

“If we are able to reduce non-revenue water from 43% to 15% over the next 10 years, that equates to an 87ML- a-day water saving, equivalent to about R1.6-billion over the 10 years.

“We are all victims of poor planning.

“The drought cycle of every four to five years is evident. If proper planning had been in play since the last drought, we should have had enough water to survive this drought.”

Another aspect is the Assistance to the Poor programme (ATTP), which provides free basic services and discounted electricity to poor households.

The municipality budgets for eight kilolitres a household a month, with anything over this deemed non-revenue water.

The metro’s ATTP billing interrogation last month revealed that more than 4 000 users (on ATTP) each used between 20 kilolitres and 49 kilolitres, 854 used 50 to 99 kilolitres and 489 used 100 kilolitres a month every month – all costing the metro in excess of R4.7-million last month.

Algoa Bay Wessa board member Gary Koekemoer said the session was aimed at providing a platform for residents to interact with the relevant authorities about pressing issues in the Bay.

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