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Johannesburg - Drastic steps have been taken to avert a looming water crisis in North West, the water affairs department said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, premier Thandi Modise declared the province a disaster area because of water shortages in major towns, spokesman Themba Khumalo said in a statement.
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa had sent department officials to North West to help, and the two water boards serving the province - Rand Water and Magalies Water - had also been roped in, he said.
As a result, the Rustenburg local municipality would introduce water restrictions in the areas where it believed water control was needed, including the CBD.
Other affected towns would announce their measures in due course.
The municipality also announced this week that it would allow the Rand Water Board to phase in a restricted water supply plan to local mines to ensure an equitable supply.
Municipal spokesman Victor Makhona said that beyond the restrictions, a lot of water leaks had been detected, and an engineering company had been appointed to find and repair them.
The town's growth meant its water was sometimes not adequate to meet demand during warm periods.
“Reports undertaken by the department of water affairs estimate that an additional 40 megalitres of water would be required to address growth in the northern areas of the municipality,” said Khumalo.
“The local water board, Magalies Water, is implementing the Pilanesberg scheme to increase the bulk water supply from the Vaalkop Dam to various areas in Rustenburg and Moses Kotane local municipalities in the future.”
The second phase of the scheme would supply additional water to the municipality, and upgrade the Bospoort Water Scheme, which was owned and managed by the municipality.
The municipality was considering the following short and medium term solutions to the water shortage:
* finding out why the plant supplying treated effluent water for industrial usage was not working;
* implementing water demand management initiatives to improve the municipality's reservoir inlet and outlet controls;
* having data loggers installed by Rand Water at major supply points to monitor flows and patterns in real time;
* getting stakeholders to voluntary water restrictions;
* having Magalies Water, the municipality and Rand Water confirm water demand centres in Rustenburg to ensure water supply from the Vaalkop southern scheme;
* asking Rand Water to install a pipeline from the Rustenburg South reservoir outlet to the main municipal reservoirs; and
* forming water demand management initiatives including pressure control and supply zoning to identify areas of high water loss.
Khumalo said the first rains were expected any time now , but that climate change conditions may have an impact on their arrival throughout the country.