Despite discouragement from the department of water and sanitation, people in Joburg continue to collect thousands of litres of water to be transported to Cape Town, which has been the worst hit by water shortage in the Western Cape.
Water Shortages SA has collected more than 500 000 litres of water from Joburg, which will this week be loaded into trucks and sent to help alleviate water shortages in under-resourced parts of the Cape metro.
Nationwide panic over the city’s countdown to Day Zero, now April 12, earmarked as the day its taps would run dry, has led to water collection drives around the country. But the department’s national spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, has said the Cape Town water crisis should be looked at in the context of the drought the rest of the country was still recovering from.
“We can’t act like everybody else is covered and the only place suffering is the Western Cape,” he said. “Even though some areas are recovering, such as the Vaal Dam system, that doesn’t mean the drought is over.”
Imtiaz Sooliman of the NGO at the forefront of a nationwide water collection drive, Gift of the Givers, said the national department’s warnings were disingenuous. He said a national effort was necessary if Day Zero was to be avoided.
Ratau raised concerns around the manual bottling of municipal water, or water from other sources, which, he said, posed not only a danger to Gauteng’s water levels, but to the health of the people the water was destined for.
“In terms of water that is not readily bottled by companies, how will we know what state that water will be in by the time it reaches Cape Town, and how is it ferried there? Have those trucks and containers been tested? Are they in good health? Who has tested this?
“I ask this because we don’t want a situation where water-borne diseases are now transported to the Western Cape because unsafe containers and mechanisms have been used.”
Gift of The Givers was, however, strict on using only professionally bottled and sealed water, it said, all of which would be sent first to its warehouses for testing and further treatment and filtration before it was transported.
Sooliman also warned against donors using their own containers to collect municipal water.