Water Shortage in Makana

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Wednesday, 26th April 2017

Drought conditions affect security of water supply in Grahamstown

Eastern Cape is experiencing a prolonged period of drought conditions caused by lower than average rainfall. In Makana Municipality there have been water restrictions in place since February 2016.  Our dam levels have now reached a level that is a cause for concern and last week an emergency planning meeting was held to review the situation and to decide necessary actions. Makana is working with partners, including DWS, IWR (RU), Amatola Water, and various community stakeholders.  The fact is that Settlers Dam, our main supply dam, is down at 33% and we cannot pump it using the normal pumps much below 30%.  Howiesonpoort Dam is being kept topped up at around 90%, but that is a much smaller dam.  At current consumption rates we are looking at 3 to 4 months supply unless there are prolonged heavy rains, which are not forecast.

Grahamstown draws its water from two sources.  In the east water from the Orange River is pumped via James Kleynhans pumping station and serves most parts of the eastern side (township) of Grahamstown. 

This supply is secure and not under threat for the foreseeable future, though the water demand far exceeds the production capacity of the plant hence the overnight throttling of the main reservoir feeding the area, Botha’s Hill Reservoir. That issue is being dealt with through the upgrade of the plant from being able to treat water from the capacity of 10Ml/day to 20Ml/day. It is the west side of town that is dependent on water from Makana owned dams.  Although there is a connecting pipe which can be used to transfer water from east to west, the situation is not as straight forward because the eastern parts of town use the water supplied from James Kleynhans at full capacity.  This means water can only be transferred by leaving the eastern side short of water, which is not enough already.

To address these challenges we are commencing a major publicity campaign to ensure that people reduce consumption, save water, stop leaks and take action, including installing tanks to collect rainwater.  We are engaging with farmers and bulk users who use water for irrigation.  We appeal to everyone to help reduce current consumption levels and report any leaks.

There are a number of ways to save water and it starts with you!
 
Water-saving info and resources can be found at www.ru.ac.za/environment/resources/water ... follow the Rainwater harvesting link for tips on how to become independent of an unreliable municipal water supply.
 
When GRA first alerted us 7 weeks ago that Grahamstown West is running out of water, Settlers Dam was at 41%; it is now nearly 10% less! It’s not clear how far below 30% it can be pumped. The water in Howieson's Poort Dam has only 3 months’ supply left (at current consumption rates).

Note: Makana Municipality lost admin access to their web site - which is why the dam levels displayed on their website have not been updated for about 9 months!

Posted by Nikki Kohly, Safety Health & Environmental Officer, Rhodes University