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BCM water crisis looms ever closer

BCM has changed the date of stage 3 water restrictions from early December to January 1.
BCM has changed the date of stage 3 water restrictions from early December to January 1.
Image: File

Stage 3 water restrictions came into effect on New Year's Day in Buffalo City, but the metro says its calls for residents to use water sparingly have had nowhere near the impact needed.

BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said BCM had changed the date of stage 3 restrictions from early December to January 1 because people still needed to be made aware of what this stage entailed.

BCM has previously stated that the metro could run out of water in February, the so-called “Day Zero”.

Meanwhile Port Alfred has already reached Day Zero, with the Sarel Hayward dam level standing at 6%.

“There is insufficient capacity for all the water pumps to operate,” Ndlambe municipality said in a statement.

“Water is being switched off, and later restored, to all areas in Port Alfred every day.  This is determined by capacity and demand, thus a schedule cannot be compiled. The East Bank dune pump and the boreholes in the Mooifontein area are supplying water at a very limited capacity.

“The use of hosepipes and buckets for the washing of cars and boats is strictly prohibited. Drought water tariffs have been implemented. Household usage should be limited to 50 litres per person per day.  We encourage people to check their water meters daily to determine current usage.”

Ngwenya said water usage in December and lack of decent rain had done little to avert the possibility of Day Zero in BCM.

“Unfortunately we have had some rain but it hasn’t been good rain that makes an impact in the catchment areas. So the city’s situation remains dire and the earlier predictions of dry taps by the end of February looks highly likely,” he said.

“We are [still] within stage 3 water restrictions. We are going to be communicating directly with the residents in the form of informative statements so that the message can reach all ratepayers,” he said.

“Thus far our campaign has been via the various media platforms and, though it has raised some level of awareness, we feel it hasn’t had the sort of impact we were hoping for,” Ngwenya said.

In a previous interview with the Dispatch, Ngwenya said holidaymakers would drive up water usage, and he urged visitors to use water sparingly. He could not say what effect visitors had had on BCM's water resources over the festive season.

“It’s difficult though to inculcate a new culture in people and expect behavioural change so we are mindful of that. Intensifying communication alone won’t bring results.”

He also called on the business community to come on board with programmes to save water.

“Hotels, B&Bs and all accommodation establishments must develop and produce material that will alter water use. This doesn’t have to be costly; it can be a simple paper notice. But it’s time we all get involved. This includes restaurants, shops and others. It’s time to go beyond just municipal restrictions."

According to the department of water & sanitation, the Wriggleswade dam, which supplies East London, dropped to 33% capacity on Thursday from 36% last week. The Bridle Drift dam, supplying Mdantsane as well as East London, dropped from 45% last week to 40% on Thursday.


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