Port Elizabeth – The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has exceeded its water supply quota from the Kouga Dam because it did not adhere to government gazetted water restrictions, says the Gamtoos Irrigation Board.
The Port Elizabeth-based board provides water to about 7 400ha of farmland in the Eastern Cape, which translates to about 250 farms.
It said the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s failure to adhere to water restrictions, coupled with the rapidly declining levels of dam levels, was raising alarm for its consumers, who were mostly farmers.
Board CEO Pierre Joubert said the Kouga Dam was currently 67% full and that if good rains were not experienced in September, it would eventually lead to water restrictions for its consumers.
This would mean that consumers such as farmers would suffer financial losses as a result.
Such measures would not have been necessary if the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality had adhered to the gazetted 15% water restrictions in July last year, he said.
“To this day it has not been done and this borders on a punishable offence. Despite harsh words between representatives of the department of water affairs and municipal officials, nothing has been done.”
The metro had allegedly exceeded its quota between last year July and February this year.
Special council meeting to be held
According to Joubert, the water supply system in the region was designed in such a way that the Loerie Dam was a balancing dam for Kouga. This meant that the Loerie Dam had to have water in it at all times.
However, Joubert said water from the Loerie was currently being re-routed to the metro.
News24 sent a detailed query to the metro’s acting communications director Kupido Baron. He responded by saying a special council meeting would be held on Wednesday morning to deal with the matter.
“Our council will consider tomorrow morning during a special council meeting an item that specifically deals with water usage reduction due to water restrictions imposed on us by the Department of Water and Sanitation and other important considerations.
“Although I do not want to pre-empt any decisions that will be taken at the meeting, the likelihood of water restrictions in Nelson Mandela Bay are imminent due to the reduction of water levels in our supply dams,” Baron said.
Joubert added that every 10% reduction of water levels in the dams translated into loss of employment opportunities on farms.
“It is time that the municipality gets their priorities in order and deploy their resources more effectively, seeing that it has direct impact on job creation and the economy in the Gamtoos Valley,” he said.
The board was currently allocating 28% of its water resources to the greater Port Elizabeth area/Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.