CNS News 31.1.2018 10:14 am

Eastern Cape water crisis worsens

While the country has been consumed by the Western Cape’s looming Day Zero, the Eastern Cape is facing its own water crisis.

Day Zero in the Western Cape has been a trending topic since it was announced last year.

Capetonians face the probability of their taps running dry in April this year and the province has been scrambling to put measures in place before the deadline, Boksburg Advertiser reports.

The Western Cape is not the only province hit hard by the drought; the Eastern Cape dam levels have dropped drastically over the past year.

READ MORE: Cape water crisis could spread to other provinces warn experts

Three districts in the Eastern Cape had already declared a state of disaster in May last year due to drought. Two more are said to follow suit.

According to Eastern Cape director of water regulation Andrew Lucas, the areas hit the hardest are southern parts the province. The Sarah Baartman District Municipality, Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and the Amathole District Municipality are currently disaster areas, with the OR Tambo and Joe Gqabi districts fast approaching the same point.

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Last week, Nelson Mandela Bay announced more water restrictions in the area after dam levels reached an all-time low of 30%.

“All residents and stakeholders in Nelson Mandela Bay are hereby informed that the Metro has now moved into a water emergency situation, as the combined average water levels of the Metro’s supply dams have dropped to below the 30% critically low point and is now the lowest in history.”

As a result, the Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Cllr Athol Trollip, announced that he had no option but to introduce the more punitive measures of the approved Schedule of Charges and Tariffs, which is applied during a water shortage emergency.

Five EC dams are currently at critically low water levels.

  • Xilinxa dam is at 5.2% capacity. It serves the Butterworth area in Amathole district.
  • Mhlanga dam is at 6.55% capacity. It serves the Ngeleni area in OR Tambo district
  • Nqweba dam is at 11.4% of capacity. It serves Graaff-Reinet in Dr Beyers Naude, Sarah Baartman district
  • Kouga Dam is at 7.4% capacity. It serves the Gamtoos Valley in Kouga, Sarah Baartman district
  • The municipal dams in Burgersdorp and Jamestown in Joe Gqabi district

One of the biggest concerns with the drop in water levels of Kouga Dam is the fact that it is the only source of water for Gamtoos Valley, which is an agricultural industry area. This area produces 50% of South Africa’s citrus fruits. Lucas told DailyVox that the dam is expected to run dry by March 2018.

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Farming and agricultural industries have suffered the most during the drought and this means they would have to withstand another knock this year, which affects the rest of the country. With farms having to close down, many workers will lose their jobs.

For a more in depth rainfall update, visit WeatherSA or click here. For more information on the water storage levels across the country, visit the DWS site. For a comprehensive drought status report from the Department of Water and Sanitation, click here.

Cape water crisis could spread to other provinces warn experts

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