The Department of Water and Sanitation in the Eastern Cape has called on residents to adhere to water restrictions imposed by local municipalities to ensure water security.

The call comes as dam levels in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro continue to decline on a weekly basis.

The department said the metro, which has been hit by drought since 2015, is seeing most of its dams lowering at concerning percentages, with 12.1% dam levels recorded this week from last week’s 12.3%.

“I want to emphasise to residents that as things stand, the best way out of this situation is for all of us to reduce our water usage immediately and substantially. Overall, water use must be reduced by 50 million litres per day from the current level of 280 million litres per day down to 230 million litres per day,” the department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau said.

According to a weekly report on the status of dam levels issued by the department early this week, Kouga Dam is at 12.8% from last week’s 13.1%, with Impofu Dam on the Krom River also decreased to 10.1%.

The dam level at Groendal Dam has decreased from last week’s 22.0% to 21.1% recorded this week, while Loerie Dam stands slightly below average at 43.6% from 43.0%.

“One of the reasons we can attribute the low dam levels to is that there have only been six months of rainfall above the average monthly rainfall since 2018.

“Weather experts are predicting that the marginal rainfall received will persist for the remainder of the year, whereas, what is needed is rainfall of 50mm in 24 hours to get run-off to the dams,” Ratau said.

Ratau said the department has since recommended to the metro that severe restrictions of 40% should be implemented in order to maintain the supply of water to affected communities.

“What we then did to assist the metro was to fast-track the completion of the Nooitgedacht water scheme, which supplies water from the Orange-Fish River system and currently supplies 210ML/day to the metro,” Ratau said.

He said the scheme intends to supply water to the eastern side of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, but through collaborative efforts aimed at ensuring that the western side of the metro does not dry out. Currently, 90ML/day is being pumped through to the western side, with the aim of increasing to 120ML/day.

Ratau expressed optimism as the Amathole and Butterworth Water Supply Systems remain at above-average percentages at 75.8% and 99.0%, respectively.

“We acknowledge that the situation is quite dire on the western side of the province and urge everyone – business, civil society and institutions – to play their role. We need to use water sparingly and with the outmost care,” he said.

The department reiterated its call to community members to refrain from vandalising water infrastructure, warning that this has adverse impact on reliable water supply.

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