File Photo: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Cape Town - The Cape Town City council will meet with the national government within the next few days to decide whether to impose water restrictions over summer or not.

Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have already implemented restrictions as the country endures its worst drought in 23 years, exacerbated by the El Nino weather pattern which is expected to bring even drier weather.

Rand Water has instructed residents in Joburg, Pretoria and the Ekurhuleni municipality not to use hosepipes or sprinklers from 6am to 6pm until further notice saying supply was under severe strain.

There are also restrictions on washing vehicles with hosepipes and filling swimming pools.

The city council said the Department of Water and Sanitation, would meet with all stakeholders in the region (including the city council), at the beginning of next month to decide whether restrictions would be required over the coming summer season, and if so what the level of restriction would be.

The lower than average rainfall over winter had meant that the six major dams of the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) were at about 72 percent capacity.

Many farmers have been hard hit. On a visit to the Swartland earlier this week MEC of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said some farmers were reporting a 50 percent decline in yield.

The area is experiencing one of the driest seasons in 75 years with less than half of the region’s average rainfall measured so far according to Agri Wes-Cape.

The organisation’s chief executive, Carl Opperman said the area between Malmesbury and Moorreesburg and to the north had also suffered huge losses.

“The Caledon region is looking better because the area received rain at critical times. The problem now is grazing land for animals that is not available and has to be purchased at additional cost.”

The Karoo was very dry and the West Coast had also been affected by lower rainfall.

Francois Viljoen, head of viticultural services at Vinpro said there had been no physical damage to vines as yet but rain was needed.

Farmers in the Swartland, Paarl and Darling areas were more at risk while those in Worcester and Robertson, where vines were irrigated, were having a good vintage.

Vines are currently flowering so ideally light rain was needed, but even heavy rain was preferable to no rain.

He said vineyards had not been as harshly affected like grain and wheat but the bottom line was that rain was needed.

Winde said funding relief for any national disasters sat with the national government.

He said that in the event of a disaster being declared, a request for funding would have to be submitted to the National Treasury via the national disaster management centre.

“According to legislation, farmers cannot be compensated for loss of income due to a national disaster. Assistance can only be used against damaged infrastructure.”

Earlier this week Agri SA president Johannes Möller urged the government to prioritise disaster relief to agriculture.

He said in drought-stricken regions like the North West, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, farmers were exposed to severe financial losses making it very difficult for them to operate their businesses sustainably or to meet their obligations to financial institutions.

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Cape Argus

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