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Taps run dry as ‘Day Zero’ worries loom for large parts of SA

Drilling in progress at Rufane Primary School and Elizabeth Donkin Psychiatric Hospital in Gqeberha. Picture: Supplied

Drilling in progress at Rufane Primary School and Elizabeth Donkin Psychiatric Hospital in Gqeberha. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 1, 2022

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Cape Town - Gqeberha may soon not be the only city facing Day Zero – when the taps will run dry -- as experts suggest water scarcity is becoming a national phenomenon.

In Kwazulu-Natal, Durban is already making use of water shedding and Hibberdene residents in the Ugu municipality experienced dry taps for three months.

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University of the Free State (UFS) Centre for Environmental Management professor Anthony Turton said: “Durban will now be water shedding for at least the next year as it struggles to restore services. All coastal cities have run out of water.

“By 2025 there was projected to be a national deficit of 2044 million m³ per annum. Note the KwaZulu-Natal deficit is over 700 m³.”

“Water for drinking is small water – only 2 litre per person per day. Water for living is medium water – 200 litres per person per day. Water for food is big water – 2 000 litres per person per day. We will starve before we die of thirst.”

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The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality said it had observed a decrease in water production and consumption this week.

The senior director of Water and Sanitation, Barry Martin attributed the drop in water production and consumption to a "combination of several factors, including the effects of the earlier reduction in supply from Churchill, as well as the change in consumer behaviour, indicating that the message is hitting home".

Meanwhile, humanitarian organisation, Gift of the Givers has stepped in, so far drilling at least three boreholes in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

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On Tuesday the organisation opened a borehole at Elizabeth Donkin Psychiatric Hospital, producing a yield of 14 000L per hour.

“Our teams, in partnership with the municipality, have visited several disused boreholes with a view to resuscitate those in strategic areas immediately. Water augmentation will continue with a generous donation of 500 000 litres per day from the desalination plant at Cerebos to Gift of the Givers. Coca Cola has given us the first of three 35 000L tankers for the process.Our hydrologist is on site at West End Healthcare facility, which is one of largest maternity clinics in Gqeberha to ascertain the feasibility of drilling a borehole at the facility,” the organisation said.

Despite the recent rains, large parts of the Western Cape, specifically the Central Karoo, Little Karoo, and the Northern parts of the West Coast, are also still experiencing drought conditions.

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The Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) said it has disbursed drought support totalling R48.1 million to farmers in the worst affected areas in these regions.

Drilling in progress at Rufane Primary School and Elizabeth Donkin Psychiatric Hospital in Gqeberha. Picture: Supplied

“Based on its Provincial Risk Assessment, including technical veld assessments, the WCDoA distributed 4 065 fodder vouchers over three months (April to June 2022) to livestock farmers in critical drought areas. The WCDoA is committed to supporting farmers in drought-stricken areas. However, the nature of the support will be determined by the outcome of future provincial risk assessments,” Agriculture MEC, Ivan Meyer said.

Cape Times

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