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Grahamstown braces as water restrictions on cards

Date Released: Wed, 2 October 2013 08:25 +0200

Municipal water restrictions are looming for Grahamstown and surrounding farms which irrigate, said Eastern Cape regional head of the national Water Affairs Department, Portia Makhanya.

Interviewed at a public-government workshop in East London yesterday, Makhanya identified a serious lack of technical support staff for a lone technical director at Makana Municipality as the core reason for the crippling water shortages in the academic city. She said a national Water Affairs Department rapid response unit was on site rushing through a new agreement to hand the entire water management of Makana Municipality over to the Amathola Water Board, hopefully by Friday.

Makhanya was meeting Makana municipality at noon yesterday to push for the immediate implementation of water restrictions. She mentioned a prohibition on watering gardens or irrigation on farms, and washing cars.

She, and Eastern Cape water regulation and usage director Andrew Lucas, said that while the Eastern Cape was very dry, dams were full.

Makhanya said Settlers Dam, which supplied water from Grahamstown’s western foothills, was 75% full. She said a problem with two aging pumps meant only half the available capacity to supply the city from the west was in effect.

A back-up pump, which did not return from being repaired in Johannesburg at the weekend – prompting Rhodes University to appeal to President Jacob Zuma’s office to intervene – was delivered to Makana Municipality on Monday.

Nonetheless, R4-million was being spent in an emergency intervention to repair broken main lines in Grahamstown.

However, dry conditions and school holidays had driven up public consumption which was exceeding supply.

Makhanya said a study on how to upgrade the supply system coming into Grahamstown from the Fish River in the east had been approved.

When completed, the upgraded system would ensure consistent supply during droughts and peak usage periods.

Pressed on why farmers would have to stop irrigating with Makana Municipality water, she said the National Water Act prioritised human consumption needs over agriculture during a shortage.

By: Mike Lowe

Article Source: Daily Dispatch

Source:Daily Dispatch