Gift of the Givers loaded hundreds of tons of bottled water yesterday, destined for Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown. 
Photo: David Ritchie African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Makhanda (Grahamstown) is in serious trouble in terms of its water resources, according to humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers.

The organisation has stepped in to offer assistance, loading trucks with hundreds of tons of bottled water from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban yesterday as the town’s water continues to dry up.

Gift of the Givers says Settlers Dam, which supplies Makhanda, is at 13%. Water cannot be extracted from the last 10% due to high silt levels, so it effectively has 3% reserves.

Waainek Water Treatment Works, which receives water from the smaller Howiesons Poort Dam, had a problem with its pumping capacity due to electrical failure recently and was out of service for a few days.

“However, with rapidly dropping water levels in HP Dam, the Waainek Water Works will essentially shut down. It supplies the west of the town with eight megalitres per day. 

"The only feasible option is the James Kleynhans Water Works, which is also currently compromised. It receives water from the Glen Melville Dam, which in turn receives water from the Orange-Fish River scheme,” said Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman.

Currently, 80 000 people in parts of Makhanda East and 19 streets in Makhanda West were without water, he said.

Dr Gideon Groenewald, Gift of the Givers’ specialist hydrologist and geologist, will engage the municipality to ascertain what sustainable alternatives can be found in the immediate to medium term as work continues to double the capacity of the James Kleynhans Water Works to 20 megalitres by 2020. 

Currently, it provides 10 megalitres per day. It may soon be the only source of water supply to Makhanda once all the other water systems shut down. There will be a daily deficit of eight megalitres. Water will be rationed to 20 litres per day, supplied two days on and two days off.

“Gift of the Givers will assist as best it can. Intervention in the drought through boreholes, bottled water, animal fodder and food parcels for retrenched farmworkers has already cost us R160 million,” Sooliman said.

Contributions can be made to Gift of the Givers, Standard Bank, account number 052137228, branch code 057525, reference Drought. 

To obtain a Section 18A tax benefit certificate, send proof of payment to [email protected] Details toll-free at 0800 786911.