Category: <span>Water security</span>

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09 December 2022 Media Release: The effects of drought growing and prolonged electricity disruptions are increasing

Media Release: The effects of drought growing and prolonged electricity disruptions are increasing

For immediate release
09 December 2022

Local municipalities throughout the Garden Route and the country at large, are experiencing difficulties because of the persistent load-shedding caused by ESKOM. This has a ripple effect on the supply of water, sanitation services and budgets of all municipalities. In light of this, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Council has given the GRDM administration the go-ahead to do everything in its power to avert any crisis that may happen as a result of the ongoing outages and drought. GRDM Disaster Management will coordinate the short- and long-term interventions required.

According to Ald. Memory Booysen, GRDM Executive Mayor: “The administration is investigating if declaring a local drought disaster is necessary, be it for one area, a few or the entire region”.

“We also need municipalities to state if they support the GRDM to become a water services authority or not because if we have their support we will stand a greater chance to become one and will be able to act more proactively to safeguard the region from water-related disasters.”

Over the past few months, the region grappled with below-normal rainfall patterns. Severe drought in particularly the Klein Karoo, vandalism and theft all over the region and other challenges have left many municipalities focusing a lot of time to do damage control.

Some of the public concerns raised are that water infrastructure is deteriorating; load-shedding causes frequent and continuous interruptions of water supply; repairs to leaks are not always done speedily; generators are not maintained; not all municipalities have water infrastructure maintenance plans in place for the foreseeable future.

The cost of generators and maintaining them remains a challenge. Not enough funding is speedily routed back from other spheres of Government to Local Government to roll out emergency interventions. It requires declaring a region as a disaster to be able to access large sums of funding. For instance, when purchasing a 100KVA generator to pump water from a borehole, a municipality would require more than R400 000 for the infrastructure, R40 000,00 for security per month per generator; more than R140 000 per month for diesel per generator; R10 000,00 for maintenance per month. This will then only serve one borehole.

The running costs per generator will, therefore, be R200 000,00 per month. This is on top of the estimated R400 000,00 to purchase one generator. Generators are also on backorder, meaning that the district will only be able to get generators in three (3) months.

See here: How load shedding is tearing through South Africa’s economy

ENDS

17 June 2022 Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project

Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project

For Immediate Release
17 June 2022

The Greater Oudtshoorn region continues to be plagued by ongoing droughts, and alternatives have had to be found to ensure water security for the region. Since 2018, the water supply from the Raubenheimer dam was under severe pressure as the amount of water available from the dam, exceeded the amount that could be relied upon with a 98% degree of assurance. The future and ongoing supply of water in the Oudtshoorn area is severely constrained and drastic measures had to be planned to address the situation urgently.

Furthermore, the Vermaaks Rriver boreholes near Dysseldorp are used to maximum capacity and the Huis River, which supplies De Rust with water, is unreliable during the summer months, which holds negative implications for the Klein Karoo Rural Water Supply System (KKRWSS).

The Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline is a project that was started in 2001 to investigate and develop alternative and additional water supplies for the Oudtshoorn area. Nine deep, and three monitoring boreholes were drilled in the Blossom’s wellfield, which were monitored and tested for 13 years. The test was completed in 2014, and it was concluded that the boreholes yield enough groundwater to supplement the water supply from the Raubenheimer Dam. It was determined that 60l/s (5Ml/day) can be supplied from 5 existing boreholes within the C1 Blossoms wellfield. The test also found that the impact on the environment would be minimal.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) approved a license for the total yield of 8 million m3/a for the ultimate full development of the Blossoms wellfield and gave the nod for the construction to commence. Originally, the project was intended as a medium to long-term bulk water augmentation intervention but given the current water crisis in the Oudtshoorn area, it will be implemented soon.

Funding for the current phases of the project, which started in February 2022, comes from the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant, which allocated a total of R47 million. To date, more than R150 million was spent, which was co-funded by DWS and Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. The current phase of the project is expected to be completed by March 2023.

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13 December 2021 Media Release: Water flowing in the Olifants River brings some relief to drought-stricken farmers

Media release: Water flowing in the Olifants River brings some relief to drought-stricken farmers

For Immediate Release
13 December 2021

Widespread heavy rains over the past few weeks have resulted in areas in the Garden Route experiencing flash floods. Meteorologists globally attribute this phenomenon to a “La Niña” weather season.

Rains in the Klein Karoo resulted in the Olifants River (Afrikaans: Olifantsrivier) flowing again after being dry for an extended period. The last time the river had this much water was in 2006.

It rained twice a week in the Klein Karoo for the past month and the recent cloud burst over Oudtshoorn pushed large amounts of water into the Olifants River.

Mr Gerhard Otto, Head of Disaster Management at Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) said that the GRDM, in conjunction with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), are carefully monitoring the water levels of the Olifants and Gamka rivers. They are also keeping a close eye on the upstream river water levels of Calitzdorp Spa.  “We have several early warning systems in place should the Spa be affected by flash floods,” said Otto.

This Olifants River has its origins in the Traka and Kalkwal Rivers north of the Swartberg, becoming the Olifants River after flowing through the Toorwaterpoort, flowing west through Oudtshoorn. It then joins the Gamka River to form the Gourits River and heads south to its mouth at Gouritsmond in the southern coast of the Western Cape.

Melanie Wilson, GRDM Manager, Economic Development and Tourism responded with enthusiasm about the rains by saying: “This is welcomed with open arms and will definitely give a break to the agricultural sector in that area.” She cautioned that the challenge still exists of the water running away from the area and that a system to store it is not in place yet. “This does not benefit the agricultural sector to the extent we’d like it to yet – those residing in the area barely cope with the severe drought that gripped the area for a few years”.

Otto agreed and noted that all possible measures should be taken to optimise every drop of rainwater, which is crucial for water-stressed areas like the Klein Karoo.

Although farmers are extremely grateful for each drop of water received, it must be noted that those who farm with stock, will only find themselves in a better position in about six weeks’ time. This is because grazing will become possible again, instead of having to rely on food pallets to feed the animals.

The levels of the major dams that provide drinking water for the Garden Route are as follows:

  • Garden Route dam: 100% – Source of drinking water for George;
  • Wolwedams dam:100,57% – Source of drinking water for Mossel Bay
  • Koos Raubenheimer dam: 100 % – Source of drinking water for  Oudtshoorn;
  • Korente Vet/ Poort dam: 104,23% Source of drinking water for  Riversdale;
  • Duiwenhoks dam: 102,38% Source of drinking water for  Heidelberg;
  • Roodefontein dam: 102,1% –  source of drinking water for Bitou; and
  • Calitzdorp dam: 64,55%- Source of drinking water for Calitzdorp.

The levels of the dams that provide water for irrigation in the Klein Karoo are in stark contrast to those in the rest of the Garden Route and the community remains hopeful that this will change. The levels of Stompdrift and Kammanassie are currently below 6 and 4% respectively.

Caption: Feature image: Olifants River flowing again after an extended dry period.

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