Makhanda in countdown to Day Zero
Rhodes University students, Makhanda residents, schools, old age homes and even estate agents are barely keeping their heads above water as the Makana local municipality faces the real threat of Day Zero.
The municipality, which governs Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) and surrounding areas, expects its main supplier dam, Settlers Dam, to be dry by mid-February.
Dam levels are critically low:
● Settlers Dam is at 12.1%;
● Howieson’s Poort is at 22.7%;
● Milner is at 15%; and
● Jameson is at 0%.
The municipality, in a statement posted on its website, said it would be difficult to recover from the crisis in the absence of significant rainfall.
“We are restricting consumption to 50 litres per person a day with immediate effect, to be able to push back the date at which the Settlers supply ceases to be viable,” it said.
“At the current levels and usage, we anticipate that around the middle of February the supply from Settlers will cease.
“When that happens, the 10 megalitres of water that is supplied to the city from the James Kleynhans Purification Works, will need to be shared by everyone, and a water rationing plan is being developed.”
A shutdown schedule is being developed to help residents and businesses plan around scheduled outages that could take place after mid-February.
Rhodes University infrastructure, operations and finance director Dr Iain L’Ange said the university has had a water outage plan and protocols in place since 2013.
“In 2013, [Makhanda] experienced a water crisis and we have been able to base our water outage plans on the experience we gained during that time,” L’Ange said.
He said students and parents were being kept up to date with the water situation via emails, the university website and social media platforms.
“We are also embarking on a water-saving campaign at the university to create awareness.”
The university is installing smart water meters in all of the residences.
The meters are programmable and once the water volume allocation has been provided, the valve will shut off.
Upon completion of the installation in the residences, the various sports ablution areas would also be addressed.
“All residence students will be provided with basins to be used for the collection of shower water.
“This grey water will be used for the flushing of toilets.
“The supply of municipal water to the residence toilets will be shut off,” L’Ange said.
“Borehole water will be made available to the rest of campus for the flushing of toilets, depending on the location of ablution areas.”
An estate agent, who did not want to be named, confirmed the crisis was affecting business, but also said there “were no worries”.
"We are in trouble but we've experienced the same a few years back and people buy houses for the love of the place, not because there’s no water.”
The municipality has made plans for a distribution schedule for water tankers in different council wards.
“There will also be collection points where residents will be able to collect their daily allocation of water.
“You will need to provide your own containers to collect a maximum of 25 litres per household.”
Water will also be delivered to hospitals, old age homes, clinics and schools.