Gqeberha suburbs Beachview and Charlo set to run out of water by August

Dam levels in the drought-stricken Nelson MandelaBay are at a critical level. File photo of the Kouga Dam.
Dam levels in the drought-stricken Nelson MandelaBay are at a critical level. File photo of the Kouga Dam.
Image: Kouga Municipality

Nelson Mandela Bay says it is currently experiencing a severe drought with its major storage dams supplying the metro at the lowest levels of all time.

The metro says that so far, rainfall has been largely coastal with no significant events falling in the catchments. Its total dam capacity is at 13% — down from 20% in January. The dams were last full in November 2015. 

“Capacity has dropped alarmingly and we all need to save water NOW to prevent our taps from running dry,” the metro said in a statement.

“With no clear indication of rain in the near future, it is estimated that various areas in Nelson Mandela Bay will run dry as the water levels drop to levels too low to extract water from our dams.”

The metro warned that if the already restricted consumption is not cut to 250 mega litres per day, areas such as KwaNobuhle and St Albans, will be without water as soon as July.

Other areas will soon follow — including suburbs like Beachview and Charlo in August, while the populous beachfront suburbs of Summerstrand and Humewood as well as Walmer could be dry by October.

Estimated dates with an indication of the areas that will be impacted if the metro's dams run dry, according to the Drought Status report.
Estimated dates with an indication of the areas that will be impacted if the metro's dams run dry, according to the Drought Status report.
Image: Nelson Mandela Bay Metro

The metro's urgent drought mitigation interventions include fixing infrastructure problems.

It says 31,062 leaks have been repaired since July 2020; of this, 5,526 were from January this year. In the week ending April 23, it said 887 leaks were repaired.

Mayor Nqaba Bhanga appealed to metro residents to cut back drastically on their water consumption, saying there was a real risk of the area running dry as projected if the current trajectory of water usage contrasted with no rains in its dam catchment areas endured.

“Plans are in place to augment our water supply. In the event that we do not get any favourable rains, and our dams do run dry, we are also putting emergency measures in place to provide water to those areas that will be worst affected, and where taps can run dry,” he said.

“These measures include the establishment of standpipes and water tanks, where communities will be able to collect water for essential use.”

“Nelson Mandela Bay is facing a crisis, but we are a resilient people. We are all in this together, and now, more than ever before, we need to work together. The more water we save, the longer the water in our dams will last. The longer the dams last, the better the chance of rain to come and fill the dams and the more time we have until the delayed long-term water augmentation projects are completed,” said the mayor.

In its planning document, the metro said water tanks are being dispatched to KwaNobuhle in the short term. By July next year, the metro aims to have operational boreholes at Bushy Park, St Georges and Moregrove Fault as well as the KwaNobuhle pump station.

In the longer term, it is also planning desalination of seawater and developing a Coegakop water treatment works.

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