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Nelson Mandela Bay facing water 'crisis'

Eastern Cape
Port Elizabeth – Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay can gear up for stringent water restrictions within the next week as the water situation in the city is on the verge of a "crisis".

Executive Mayor Athol Trollip on Wednesday, called an emergency media briefing at Port Elizabeth City Hall to address the critical water situation and the implementation of various emergency schemes.

As of Wednesday the total average dam levels dropped to 43.1 percent, with the last 10 percent (dead storage) of the dam's water being mostly not usable, dam levels are effectively at 33.1 percent.

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Executive Mayor Athol Trollip called an emergency media briefing at Port Elizabeth City Hall to address the critical water situation and the implementation of various emergency schemes. File picture: Ross Jansen

At current consumption levels this equates to roughly 12 months of usable water remaining. Trollip warned that the metro was only three percent away from moving to Part C of its water restrictions which would mean higher tariff hike for both residential and business consumers.

Trollip said that to date the metro's initiatives to save water had not seen desired outcomes and the metro needed to institute more punitive measures.

"As our dam levels continue to drop we are required to enforce drastic measures to ensure that we prolong the little supply we have. If we do not receive meaningful rain in the next few weeks, we project that the total dam storage will be less than 40 percent by the beginning of May," he said.

In the event of dam levels dropping below 40 percent the metro will implement the following:

* All domestic users using more than 40kl/m of water will be given a two week notice to fix leaks or reduce consumption, failing which a water flow meter restrictor device will be installed.

* All current and future borehole users as well as drilling contractors must register at the metro's infrastructure and engineering directorate.

* Contractors are to use recycled water from Fishwater Flats or any other approved waste water treatment works.

Other emergency schemes include making non-potable water available to the public at no cost.

Infrastructure and Engineering head, Anette Lovemore, said that the Department of Water and Sanitation wanted the metro to reduce water usage by 20 percent and the potential of the metro's water supply being throttled was of a grave concern.

"I am very concerned that they have already threatened to throttle our water supplies which means that on a daily basis they will shut off our water supplies. Now with our aging infrastructure, particularly that is extremely dangerous when we open up again the next morning, we are going to cause extreme damage in doing that," said Lovemore.

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