Most of the southern towns in the Garden Route District have bulk water storage to address their water demands until the first winter rains come, but northern parts of the Garden Route which do not have secondary water supplies are struggling in the face of the low dam levels.
Nel’s Dam in Calitzdorp, the main water supply of the Kannaland municipal area, is at an alarmingly low level of 11%, and the town has approximately five months of water left. 
Zoar’s main source of water, Tierkloof Dam, ran dry after Christmas, and its alternative source, the Jongmansland dam is at 12%. The water demand in this area is 1.4 megalitres of water per day, at this current rate the water left in storage will last only the next month before running out.

The average daily water usage per person per household in the region is as follows:

– Oudtshoorn: 121 litres

– George: 126 litres

– Knysna: 156 litres

– Hessequa: 168 litres

– Bitou: 180 litres

– Mossel Bay: 189 litres

– Kannaland: 314 litres

Background on the situation in Kannaland

On December 28 2018, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Disaster Management Centre was contacted by the Kannaland Municipality who raised concerns that Zoar might run out of water due to Tierkloof Dam levels dropping to 10%. The Jongmansland dam, which is also an emergency augmentation dam in Kannaland, was at a level of 20%.

The municipality has also been experiencing an issue with serious challenges at its water treatment facilities, which are not equipped to deal with the poor quality of water from both of these dams and purify it to the standard of drinking water. Calitzdorp struggles with similar problems with the water from Mel’s Dam.

The GRDM Disaster Management Centre has advised the Kannaland Municipality’s Technical Services to lower the pressure from main water reservoirs supplying water to Zoar. The goal is to lower water usage in the area to 70 litres per person per day.

GRDM Disaster Centre provided three 5 000-litre water tanks to be placed at the higher situated areas in Zoar, which would be first to be affected due to the pressure reduction in the system. In addition, 25 884 litres of bottled water were also provided to be distributed to affected residents.

Urgent measures needed

On January 17 2019 the Head of the GRDM Disaster Centre Gerhard Otto joined the Kannaland Mayor, Cllr Magdalene Barry and Kannaland Municipal Manager Reynold Stevens to meet with Zoar community leaders in order to discuss Kannaland’s water situation and the drastic steps that would have to be taken to reduce the town’s water demand.

It was agreed by the parties that the towns of main concern are Zoar and Calitzdorp. Steps will be taken to ensure water augmentation is prioritised and put in place for the two towns.

Following this, a meeting with Provincial as well as National stakeholders was scheduled for Friday January 18 2019 to decide on the actions to be taken. They determined the necessary steps as following:

– Due to immediate capacity constraints, the Provincial Department of Local Government will deploy a full-time engineer to assist Kannaland to develop and implement both short-and medium-term drought interventions
– Groundwater consulting firm GHT has recently completed a groundwater augmentation study for both towns. The findings will form the basis of emergency interventions that will not only include drilling but equipping and linking of these groundwater sources
– The provincial drought awareness team will be called upon to assist with the immediate roll-out of a drought and water conservation awareness campaign in the greater Kannaland area
– The irrigation of the bulk of the Lucerne at the farm Amalienstein will be stopped in order to conserve the water available in the Jongmansland dam. The Provincial Disaster Management Centre and the Provincial Department of Local Government will meet with the Department of Agriculture and the management of the Amalienstein farm (CASIDRA) to come to a suitable agreement in terms of the purchase of fodder for the animals at Amalienstein due to the foreseen loss of lucerne production

– From Monday January 21 2019, the Kannaland Technical team implemented water-shedding in Zoar as its usage needs to be reduced from the current 1 400 000-million litres of water per day to less than 350 000 litres per day

 The Kannaland Municipal Disaster Management Centre have requested 20 additional 5 000-litre water tanks from the GRDM to be placed in Zoar as well as at water-stressed communities in the rural Kannaland Municipal areas.

 

Picture: Supplied

Article written by

Aimee Pace

Aimee is an avid gamer, enthusiastic yogi and animal lover. Addicted to anime, coffee and plant-based meals. Current favourite pastimes include, sewing and learning Japanese.