There is no water at the 260bed triple-floor Butterworth Hospital. Drought is starting to reach crisis point in parts of the province, with Amathole and Chris Hani municipalities issuing statements on water supplies dwindling alarmingly low.
Butterworth Hospital, which serves 286000 people in the surrounding rural area, ran dry on Sunday and kept going only with water supplied by tankers.
Nurses from the two upper floors were going down to the ground floor and filling up 25-litre containers for their patients upstairs, Daily Dispatch was told by staff.
In a press statement this month, Mnquma municipality predicted that water supply in the town would only last a few days before running out completely.
Amathole district municipality (ADM) spokesman Siyabulela Makunga said: “Due to persistent drought in the area, Butterworth has run out of water completely.
“We have started carting water to all affected areas.
“We are busy engaging with various essential users like hospitals and universities to collectively look into putting put in place lasting relief measures,” Makunga said.
The Dispatch reliably understands that as many patients as possible will have to be discharged and treated from their homes. The rest will be transferred to other hospitals.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said people in areas surrounding the hospital would be asked to use other health facilities.
He said Butterworth Hospital was the only hospital without water.
He said provincial health superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe was sending a team of doctors and technicians to the hospital.
“An infrastructure team has been tasked with assessing water levels in the hospital reservoir tank, and will put in place a contingency plan to ensure continued water supply.”
Kupelo said mobile toilets would be supplied and acute patients sent to other hospitals.
Further west in the Eastern Cape, Komani, the economic hub of Chris Hani district municipality (CHDM), is also facing a major water crisis and severe drought. The R546-million Xonxa Dam transfer scheme and bulk water supply project, started in 2011, is not delivering yet.
CHDM spokeswoman Thobeka Mqamelo called the crisis “major”.
“McEwan pump station has frequent stoppages, leakages have been detected from government institutions and schools, and there is no relief from the main water source, Bonkolo Dam, which is below measurable levels,” she said.
“The only source of water supply, Waterdown Dam (at 60%), cannot cope with supplying water as the water channelled to the municipal reservoirs was immediately dispatched due to the demand.”