Dam levels across the country have seen an uptick this year but parts of the Eastern Cape are still facing drought conditions. Water and sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau joins us on this weekend’s podcast and unpacks plans to improve water security in the province.
As the effects of drought and low dam levels are not limited to farmers, Ratau says that water conditions in the Eastern Cape have been a source of worry in general. “We do have a general concern about the province, because we know that it has not quite recovered from the drought that started in about 2014.
“And this has not just affected the farmers. It has also affected industry, it has affected domestic use and so on. That is why all of us are really concerned that even at the moment, we are not seeing the kind of recovery that we wish to see.”
As the Eastern Cape is a summer rainfall province, dam levels are expected to fall during winter and this is a source of hope for authorities. “Obviously, as we have now gone past the winter season, we’re hoping that we … receive a good amount of rain.”
The water systems that are under pressure
Water supply systems of particular concern are the Algoa and Amatola water supply systems, according to Ratau. Those water sources have not recovered as expected.
Working with various other arms of government, the department of water and sanitation is looking at various ways to augment the existing water supplies. “We are looking at the Tsomo Ngqamakhwe pipeline that we are busy constructing at the moment. That [pipeline] will be able to assist us with interlinkages of the systems so that we can then augment the one system with another, in case of need.”
The department is also attempting to increase the supply of treated water, as well as sourcing water from the Gariep Dam at certain times. “However, even though we are using the Gariep, which is the biggest dam in the country, we cannot empty [it]. The Gariep is in the Free State and it has very particular uses for the farming community in the Free State and all of the other towns that are within its environs.”
Ratau says that people of the Eastern Cape have a collective duty to conserve water. “It is imperative … to take responsibility from wherever we are, and in whatever activities we are involved, to make sure that we consciously use water conservatively. All of us have a common responsibility to make sure that our water demand does not impact negatively on water availability.”
Listen to the full talk with Ratau on the latest episode of Farmer’s Inside Track
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