With Day Zero now estimated at fewer than 130 days, Grahamstown’s looming water crisis loomed large in the City Hall at the last council meeting. If Makana sticks to the budget it passed on 28 February, Grahamstown’s leaky pipes and inability to properly supply water to the eastern side of the city could finally become part of our history.
Called to approve the municipality’s 2017/18 Adjustment Budget, the refurbishment and expansion of existing water bulk supply infrastructure, replacement of old pipes and the secondment of a water engineer were tabled in last month’s full sitting of Council.
Treasury has approved a R22 million rollover for the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) and Makana has budgeted for refurbishment of the Waainek Bulk Water Supply (3 405 174.87) and the replacement of asbestos pipes in Grahamstown (R106 537.95).
From the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant the adjusted capital budget includes expanding the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works that serves eastern Grahamstown (R25 000 000.00) and water infrastructure (R10 000 000.00). R63 748 is budgeted separately for water management.
In addition, a special item was submitted to the full sitting of Council which was for a formal approach to the Department of Water and Sanitation for a water engineer for two years. This, acting MM Ted Pillay argued, was necessary to provide water and sanitation services for an ever increasing population, as well as conserve water in a water scarce area. Pillay said he had informed the MEC of Cogta and DWS in the province about Makana’s challenges.
“Currently the staff levels and capacity in the municipality in the Water and Sanitation division is inadequate to cope with the multiplicity of problems and challenges in the municipal area,” Pillay said.
Settlers Dam was below 19% of its capacity and the last 10% could not be extracted. Pillay said at current demand, Day Zero was estimated then at 125 days.
“We are not seeing a reduction of water consumption by consumers,” Pillay said. “If anything people are disregarding the measures put in place.”
The drought continued and weather predictions showed no signs of sufficient rain in the catchment to restore water supplies in Makana’s dams.