Water crisis bites

New curbs come into immediate effect and to remain for two years

Residents and businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay will have to drastically reduce water consumption as the council yesterday approved the immediate implementation of water restrictions.

This means that washing vehicles and watering gardens, golf greens and sports fields with a hose will be banned.

Buckets and watering cans must be used instead.

If consumption does not decrease by at least 15% over the next two months, the council could implement punitive water restrictions in November, which means residents would be forced to pay higher tariffs.

Anyone found contravening the restrictions could be fined by the metro, or they could face legal action.

The restrictions will be in place for the next two years until the expansion of the Nooitgedacht low-level water scheme is completed – a project which will drastically increase the metro’s supply capacity.

The R1.2-billion project, which will increase the capacity from 90 mega litres to 210ML a day, is expected to be finished over the next two years.

The decision to implement restrictions was approved at a highly charged council meeting, which saw the DA and ANC butting heads over a range of issues, including the restrictions, council rules and finger pointing.

The DA and its coalition partners – UDM, COPE and ACDP – passed the agenda item with 61 votes out of 116 councillors in attendance.

The ANC, with its 47 councillors who were present and the support of the lone AIC councillor, wanted the item deferred, while the EFF and Patriotic Alliance abstained from voting.

The EFF’s Zilindile Vena later explained they did not want to vote as they were unsure of its impact on the poor.

ANC caucus leader councillor Danny Jordaan did not attend the meeting as he was apparently ill, while the United Front’s councillor, Zanoxolo Wayile, missed his second meeting.

Wayile told The Herald later that he was busy preparing for a an international assignment and that he would attend the next meeting.

The restrictions are imposed following a notice gazetted by Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane in April that the municipality was extracting too much water from the supply dams.

According to the new political head of infrastructure and engineering, councillor Annette Lovemore, the municipality currently uses 60 million litres more than its daily allocation.

This is compounded by a massive infrastructure backlog, which goes into billions of rands, as well as a water leaks crisis in the metro.

Leaks cost the municipality hundreds of millions of rands annually.

Lovemore said Mokonyane had been forced to publish a gazette notice as her pleas for the metro to decrease water consumption had fallen on deaf ears.

“We operate in a water-scarce environment. It is important to remember that failure to act in accordance with the restrictions is a criminal offence and could result in legal action,” she said.

“If water consumption does not decrease by 15% within two months, council will be forced to consider punitive measures.