Cape Town – While the dams supplying Cape Town with water are reaching levels indicating that its water crisis is over for now, municipalities in the Karoo are still facing a severe drought.
Both the Oudtshoorn and Beaufort West municipalities have implemented strict restrictions to prevent taps from running dry.
Oudtshoorn Municipality declared a state of emergency as the town has only enough water for the next 150 days.
This is despite an increase in the levels of the dams supplying the town to 31.12% of capacity this week from 30.3% last week.
Mayor Colan Sylvester said the recent rainfall had not brought relief, prompting officials to find ways to supplement the town’s water supply.
“We only had 4mm of rainfall in the last week, which is not significant enough to make an impact on the dam levels.
“Our rainy season in winter yielded below average rainfall and we are looking at heading into summer with below normal rainfall for the next six months,” he said.
“So we have established three extra boreholes that will supply water to the Klein Karoo Rural Water Supply Scheme; this allows for additional water to be transferred to Raubenheimer Dam, if needed.
“We are also looking at establishing an emergency supply water pipe from the Blossoms groundwater project to Oudtshoorn, and for that project we have applied for funding from both the provincial and the national governments.
“The value of this project will be between R50million and R150m, depending on which (construction method) is most cost-effective.”
Sylvester said measures to reduce water loss were being undertaken, with the municipality fixing leaking pipes and other faulty infrastructure.
In Beaufort West, residents said taps had been running dry intermittently over the past two weeks.
The town is relying heavily on water from a treatment plant, and boreholes have been established.
The Gamka Dam, which was the municipality’s main water source, has run dry. A reservoir that is filled by a water treatment plant accounts for 20% of the town’s supply. Contaminated water from its sewerage system is turned into drinkable water at the treatment plant.
Residents said they had become dependent on two five-litre containers of water supplied by the municipality on some days as they could no longer rely on receiving water from their taps.
Resident Khumbulani Hlebo, 34, said: “For the last two weeks we have had a situation where water has not been coming out from the taps. And this morning (Friday) the municipality delivered two five-litre bottles of water for households and a municipal truck also came by for people to collect water from in their buckets.
“We have had to leave taps on, just on the off chance that water comes back, and we can then collect what we can to store for future usage.
“We don’t know how long the situation will continue. It’s been a case of having to forgo household chores, like doing the laundry in favour of having bath water and enough for the dishes and day-to-day things.”