Water supply under threat as dam dries up

Chester Makana

Chester Makana

The Middle Letaba dam, one of the biggest dams in Limpopo, faces an ecological disaster and water authorities fear that the problem could affect water supply in some parts of the province.

Despite more rains since December, the dam levels have not improved satisfactorily.

It only improved slightly, from 7percent to 9 percent.

Several villagers who depended on the dam for water have seen their taps run dry.

Alson Matukane, the water affairs senior director, said the problem in the dam was caused by drought.

Matukane said the department will drill new boreholes for the affected areas.

"The problem in Middle Letaba is that the dam is still below expected levels because of the drought that has hit the area.

"This is not a new phenomenon. Three years ago the Blouberg area was also hit by the drought," said Matukane.

Some of the affected communities have now resorted to using water from the river in spite of the cholera outbreak.

They are putting their lives under threat even though these rivers have not tested positive for the bacteria.

Matukane said though the rivers have tested negative, the communities still need to stick to basic hygiene, as negative results do not necessarily mean there is no cholera bacteria in the river.

"It might mean that at the time when the test was conducted there was no cholera, but there is cholera here in South Africa," added Matukane.

However, he said the Nandoni dam, which is under construction, will be able to ease the water supply problem as soon as its purification plant is completed.

The Nandoni is expected to supply clean water by June.