Update on the Mnquma Local Municipality water situation
Following Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s visit to the Eastern Cape in January 2020 where she met with the provincial government to discuss plans to mitigate drought in the province after the Premier had declared the provincial state of disaster, the Department of Water and Sanitation allocated R230 million to Amatola Water for a period of 3 years to assist the Eastern Cape in mitigating the effects of drought.
The Minister proposed and encouraged that the issue of drought be looked into by way of cooperation among the 3 spheres of government, communities and private sector. Minister Sisulu directed that some of the measures that will be used to mitigate the effects of drought include the drilling and equipping of boreholes, desalination, water carting and desilting.
When coronavirus arrived in South Africa, Minister Sisulu issued a directive that water should be provided to all communities to curb the spread of coronavirus as the washing of hands with water and soap for 20 seconds is one of the protocols set up by the World Health Organization to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Department of Water and Sanitation through its entities Amatola Water and Rand Water, together with Amathole District Municipality, have doubled their efforts to ensure that the residents in Butterworth and surrounding areas have sufficient water. Since the start of lockdown, the government has delivered 171 water trucks and 5694 water tanks to all municipalities in the Eastern Cape since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in our country.
Further, the Department has delivered 756 water tanks to priority schools around the Eastern Cape. All this is done to improve water supply and mitigate drought as well as curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The low water levels in Xilinxa Dam and Gcuwa Weir have raised serious concerns for water security in the Mnquma area. According to the recent dam levels report issued this week, these dams have dropped substantially and their levels have reached 0.6% and 6.2% respectively.
The DWS intervention at Mquma has seen an increase in the number of water tankers (trucks) from 3 ADM owned trucks. As such 11 trucks are mobilised through Amatola Waterboard, 6 from Amathole District as approved reprioritized funds by DWS. An additional 10 trucks will be delivered by Rand Water once their procurement process has been finalized bringing the total number of water trucks to 30 by 23rd October 2020.
The Amathole District Municipality and the Department [through Amatola Water board] will also increase the number of water tanks by another 50 bringing the total to 150 water tanks with a capacity of 5000 litres, adding to those which were delivered since the start of lockdown to improve water service delivery in Mnquma Local Municipality to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic and mitigate the effects of the devastating drought.
A number of boreholes have also been drilled to increase water delivery in Mnquma Local Municipality, these are serving as sources for the current tankering services. Temporary boreholes (24) have been drilled across Butterworth of which 4 of these have been equipped with hand pumps and are producing good quality water for human consumption. Unfortunately, water in 19 of them is not fit for human consumption but are equipped with hand pumps and marked as non-consumptive use such as cleaning, flushing, and other domestic use. The department through Amatola Water is exploring the drilling and equipping of additional boreholes. Further, it will be refurbishing other boreholes to improve water service delivery.
The Department will be establishing the site office for the Tsomo-Ngqamakhwe Phase 5a water pipeline project that will cost R735 million by end October 2020. The Department has set aside R50 million in this financial year to start this project. The project will develop work packages to benefit Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises. It is expected to take a period of 18 months to completion.
Furthermore, the Department will raise the wall of the Gcuwa Weir to increase capacity of the weir for more water storage. The project designs are underway and physical construction will start in 2021. It is expected to take 6-12 months to complete.
The Department urges communities to work with government in protecting all water infrastructure to benefit everyone. Further, the department appeals to all to report acts of vandalism of water infrastructure because it negatively impacts on water supply.
Source: Government of South Africa