WATER WEEKLY 3 | 12 March 2019


Thank you to all for the suggestions, submissions and engagements received last week. Please see the suggestions section.


Rhodes University WILL NOT close down

There have been rumours circulating, once again, about Rhodes University closing down due to the water crisis. Please note, that Rhodes University has no plans to close down. Please help us to stop these rumours from spreading. If the University had plans to close down, it would approach the situation in a transparent manner. There has never been any plans to close the University down due to water shortages.


UPDATE: Dam levels

WESTERN SIDE: The municipality has announced that although the recent rain had a positive impact on one of our dams, it was not significant. Howieson’s Poort dam as of Monday 11 March was at 21.3% from 18.3% recorded on Friday 8 March, just three days earlier. The weekend rain seems to have had no impact on Settler’s dam, which is currently on approximately 9.1% from 9.3% recorded on 8 March.

The Waainek Water Treatment Works is not producing at full capacity because there is currently work that’s being done on the filters. Only four out of six filters are currently in use, as a contractor is busy refurbishing them. As such, water supply on the Western side will be intermittent.

EASTERN SIDE: The James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works is currently producing 5 megalitres of treated water since only one pump is in use. Hopefully, both pumps will be in use as of today, 12 March.


Community celebration

On Friday 8 March, Dr Jane Tanner and Professor Emeritus Denis Hughes from the Institute for Water Research (IWR) at Rhodes University met at the third and final new borehole drilled at Rhodes University. This borehole was sited by Dr Tanner, who has spent several years composing a map of Grahamstown’s groundwater.

"This particular borehole is artesian, which means the aquifer is under pressure, so no need for a pump," Dr Tanner explained.

Gideon Groenewald and Badr Zaki from Gift of the Givers were also present to share in this momentous occasion.

 If you or your department is doing anything worth featuring in this newsletter, please share with communications@ru.c.za.


A few updates

  • Wee Wiser posters - After last week’s newsletter, we received quite a few queries regarding the Wee Wiser posters, especially from the reses. These are slowly being rolled out where possible, budget willing. This is one of those situations where we would like to appeal to the University community to help us get them printed, laminated and distributed around campus. It is a very big campus and we simply cannot get to all female toilet stalls. These posters are available at the following shared drive: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1v_t-w5xB3puUuckTm-ZUYFAR1ZDjEYHD?usp=sharing Please get these printed and put up at your res or departmental buildings.
  • ‘Final’ Makana Water Crisis Disaster Plan – this document has been doing the rounds since it was finalised on 6 March 2019. However, the municipality has asked that we exercise caution in distributing the ‘finalised’ version, as it unfortunately contains a notable error. The error is as follows [ref: pg 28 (‘Annexure B’)]: maximum free water allowed for indigent people is 6 kilolitre and not 60 kilolitre.


What you can do to #DoYourPart and #SaveOurWater

Please keep sending these to us at communications@ru.ac.za, so that we can include them in future issues of this newsletter.

Tip 1: Using grey water to flush toilets, combined with less frequent flushing, can quickly lead to unpleasant odours. Here is a video, sent to us by Karen van Rooyen of The Herald, which shows how you can make your own toilet bowl fizz bombs: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1614315875316573

Tip 2: You can still wash your car if you do it very carefully. It is possible to clean a medium-sized car with 250mls of clean water in a spray bottle with some cleaner added. You can even use grey water if it is not too soapy and provided you do it quickly enough after collection. Use the spray bottle to wet and soap your car, and use a bucket of grey water to rinse the dirt off your microfibre cloth. ~ Sharon Tweddle, retired Rhodes staff member

Tip 3: Submit your tips, cool videos or initiatives to communications@ru.ac.za


What Rhodes is doing to #SaveOurWater

  • In a drive to increase awareness about the water crisis, the Rhodes University School of Journalism & Media Studies (JMS) will be holding a mock press conference for its first-year class. Students will write an assessable news story on the event and will later follow up on the news conference by pursuing new story angles and writing their own news stories about the water crisis in Makhanda/Grahamstown. “These news stories will be due in the second term and will be published in the student press, Grocott's Mail and on their own blogs,” said Rod Amner, Lecturer at JMS.
  • Rhodes University representatives attend weekly Water Crisis Joint Operations Committee meetings to ensure the most up-to-date and relevant information from municipal stakeholders can be communicated to the Rhodes University community in the form of regular communiqués.


What the municipality is doing

A meeting was held on 8 March 2019 between the Director General of the Office of the Premier (OTP), Makana Municipality and stakeholders to unlock the challenges experienced with the disaster as a result of the drought. One of the resolutions of the meeting was that a Project Steering Committee be established as a subcommittee of the Water Crisis Joint Operations Committee to address these challenges with special focus on the management of funding from various sources. The Committee will consist of the following: COGTA National, Provincial COGTA, CFO (Makana Municipality), Department of Water and Sanitation, MISA, MBB, Provincial Treasury and a representative from OTP.


Useful links/articles this week:

  • Makana Water Crisis site:



Thank you for working through these difficult times with us. We appreciate all of the assistance that has been offered to us thus far. Please keep the conversation about #SaveOurWater going at communications@ru.ac.za.