Willowmore struggling with water in the newly amalgamated Dr Beyers Naudé Municipality

The town of Willowmore has been struggling with insufficient and unreliable water supply for the past few months. The Dr Beyers Naudé Municipality has failed to action numerous complaints and pleas by the residents of Willowmore to do something about the fact that the town only has water for three to five hours a day.

This is just one of the issues that were feared would happen if the government continued its plan to amalgamate the erstwhile Baviaans- and Camdeboo Municipalities to form the Dr Beyers Naudé Municipality. The newly amalgamated municipality is administratively run from Graaff-Reinet, 176 kilometres from the town of Willowmore. It seems that these small Karoo towns are taking a back seat when it comes to serious issues such as water supply. Little to no maintenance is taking place on pumps, pipes and reservoirs.

Under the former DA-run Baviaans Municipality, the town used to have a water supply of 14 litres per second. Now they are struggling to maintain a combined yield of eight litres per second. This has resulted in the town only having water for a few hours a day. Businesses are being negatively affected and households even more so, as residents are charged for air running through the meters every time the water supply is restored.

I have submitted legislature questions to the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Fikile Xasa, regarding steps that must be followed. The main issues appear to be a legal dispute between the owner of the land from which the water is pumped, as there are no servitudes in place and further due to the fact that an illegal dam was built over the pipelines that supply the town with water. Other issues include an obstruction in the developed Wilgerkloof Borehole and water from Bergpomp not reaching the water treatment works.

According to the municipality, a business plan has been submitted to the Office of the Premier to assist with funding in developing the two Wilgerkloof Boreholes. Further, according to the municipality, R6-million was budgeted for this purpose, a question that must still be confirmed by the MEC.

If this issue persists it will have a devastating effect on the economy of Willowmore as the livelihood of the town depends on its water supply. The DA will continue to take up this issue with different spheres of government to ensure that cooperative governance is committed to giving the necessary support to municipalities that are struggling. — Vicky Knoetze MPL, Shadow MEC for Cooperative Governance