Saldanha Bay, on the West Coast, is a week away from running out of water and Cape Town has come to their rescue. The drinking water supplies in the small town are running dangerously low because the Misverstand Dam has dried up.
The dam is the main feeder to the coastal town and will only be able to supply water until 24 April. The Misverstand Dam is currently at 13.26% capacity, while the Voelvlei Dam sits at 13.75% capacity. This water crisis led Premier Helen Zille to approach national government for help.
In a meeting last Friday, Minister of the National Department of Water and Sanitation, Gugile Nkwtini, decided to release 5-million cubic metres of water from the Berg River into the Misverstand Dam to supplement their supply. Water from Theewaterskloof Dam has been pumped into the Berg River, which will result in a 0.4% drop in the overall dam supplies in Cape Town. The emergency supply will help Saldanha with enough water to carry them through to 31 July 2018.
If the Misverstand Dam runs dry, the town would have to rely on the Voelvlei Dam, which already supplies water to 22 other towns on the West Coast. If this happens, towns such as Malmesbury and Piketberg will only have enough water to last until the end of this month – which forced government to act sooner rather than later.
Nkwini said that the entire Western Cape is feeling the effects of the drought, adding that food security is under major threat.
Anton Bredell, MEC for Western Cape Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, said that 22 towns on the West Coast will be affected if the Misverstand Dam is lost. The water was released on Wednesday afternoon, and will take seven days to reach the Misverstand Dam.
The water will need to travel 138km to reach its destination from the Berg River Dam. As the release may cause local flooding, all municipalities along the Berg River have their disaster management on high alert.
We are releasing water from the Berg River Dam to top up the Misverstand Dam to keep water supplied to West Coast towns. Pls make sure that no-one is caught by the water coming down the dry Berg river bed on its way through S’bosch, Drakenstein and Swartland. pic.twitter.com/0Uz553a6hi
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) April 18, 2018