Water Strategy Master Plan needed for Eastern Cape

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL
Shadow MEC for COGTA

The Eastern Cape is in dire need of a Water Strategy Master Plan to address the short, medium and long-term strategies for water security to the province’s towns and cities.

The lack of action by the ANC government has broken the province. Poor maintenance and no new bulk infrastructure, together with no master plan to augment water supplies, has devastated the Eastern Cape.

Water is our most valuable resource, there is no substitute for it. If we do not start to treat the water shortage as the crisis that it is, the crisis will become a catastrophe!

The water crisis is affected by four factors:

  • Drought / Water Scarcity.
  • Failing infrastructure.
  • Lack of innovative and appropriate technology.
  • Contamination of existing water sources.

The crisis is further exacerbated by the lack of planning to deal with the effects of the drought and not acting soon enough.

Many towns in the Eastern Cape have run dry, while others have been suffering from sporadic water shortages and water-shedding for months.

  • The Dr Beyers Naude Municipality informed residents last week that water extraction from the Nqweba Dam will be discontinued, as the dam is now at 8.4%, this means Graaff-Reinet is now completely reliant on boreholes;
  • In the Great Kei Local Municipality, Komga is often without water for days on end, due to failing infrastructure and dry storage reservoirs;
  • In the Amathole District Municipality, demand has exceeded supply in towns like Stutterheim, Middeldrif, Bedford, Adelaide, New Area and Red Location. Boreholes have run dry and infrastructure is collapsing;
  • In the Nqushwa Municipality, villages have been without water for nine months and Hamburg town has now entered its 13th week without water;
  • Ndlambe Municipality, which includes the towns of Port Alfred and Bathurst, have been struggling with water for years as the Sarel Hayward Dam supplying Port Alfred and the Golden Ridge Dam supplying Bathurst has run dry;
  • Water supply for Kenton-on-Sea and Bushman’s is critically low;
  • In Matatiele Ward 24 – Boreholes providing water for 200 000 people have run dry

In sharp contrast, the DA-led Kouga municipality is actively putting drought mitigation measures in place. They have secured funding of R152 Million, which they used to upgrade water infrastructure, drill boreholes and supply water tanks for rainwater harvesting to residents.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, the Coalition of Good Governance has put a comprehensive drought mitigation plan in place. Through these interventions, real water losses have dropped from 39% last year, to 29,4%.

The comprehensive Water Strategy Master Plan must include innovative and locally appropriate strategies and alternatives to ensure access to water such as:

  • Portable Water Purification Units.
  • Extraction of Water from the Atmosphere as done in Kenya.
  • Water Recycling Solutions.
  • Rainwater harvesting.
  • Incentive Schemes for Household Water Recycling Units, such as Hydraloop used in the Netherlands.
  • Incentives for the business and manufacturing sector for the re-use and recycling of water.
  • Government regulations must be put in place to support and incentivise these innovations.

The DA will continue to fight for a water master plan for the province as well as having the province declared a drought disaster area.