Municipality faces crisis of severe water shortage

THE Makana municipality in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, has a severe water crisis with parts of the municipality running dry.

Two of its supply dams, the Settlers Dam and Milner Dam, have been at 10percent of their capacity since February, and this has affected the industrial area and the local Waainek Prison.

The eastern part of the city, which includes Joza township, is, however, not affected. Two weeks ago, water in Joza was said to contain e-coli bacteria, but the municipality says it has been purified.

A public notice from Makana states: "The municipality is experiencing water shortages when it comes to supplying high-lying areas and the prison.

"Due to the drought that the Eastern Cape is experiencing, water levels have dropped drastically in the dams that supply Waainek."

Municipal spokesperson Thandi Matebese said: "The other problem we have besides the continuing drought is that the population of Grahamstown has increased in recent years, with a considerable number of people coming in from the rural areas. Add to that the fact that our infrastructure has not been upgraded.

"We have approached the Development Bank of Southern Africa for a loan. If we can secure the loan, part of that money will go towards upgrading our infrastructure. The ideal situation, however, is that the sooner we get rain the better."

A number of residents Sowetan spoke to were upset about the water crisis. Local resident Hester Delport said: "It is not fair to us that we must buy water from Fruit & Veg City. Some people cannot afford it, and where must they get their water?"

Another resident, Ruth Andrews, said on Wednesday last week: "Occasionally, we have to fetch water from the township. Even last night and early this morning there was no water."

A Rhodes University chemistry research student said: "Taps have very low pressure and at times there is no water at all like today (last Wednesday). When there is no water, it affects the university, and we can't do research without water."