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Nelson Mandela Bay plans to secure groundwater

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 07 July 2010

Nelson Mandela Bay’s water crisis is not over yet, with its dams at a combined capacity of 34.8%, but plans are on track to ensure the city’s supply lasts until its desalination plant is completed next year.

Kouga Dam was completed in 1976 to provide a reliable source of water for the metropolitan area of Port Elizabeth. Photo:'Port Elizabeth Dail Photo' blog.

With the Kouga Dam at 35.3% of capacity, the Churchill 21.4%, Impofu 38.8%, Loerie 36.6% and Groendal 35.5%, there is only enough water to last until March next year if there is no significant rainfall until then.

But municipal spokesman Kupido Baron says plans are under way to secure groundwater until the desalination plant is built.

The municipality applied for the city to be declared a drought disaster area in March, allowing it to apply for R1.6-billion in emergency funding. Although it has not been received, Baron said work had already started on the emergency plan.

Measures included building a R750-million desalination plant and “fast-tracking” of the R650-million Nooitgedacht Dam low-level water scheme. Other measures include using groundwater schemes and improving detection of water losses, requiring an R80-million budget.

“A site for the desalination plant has been identified at Swartkops River and we are working towards securing contractors to start work on (it). Construction is planned to begin in September and it will take six to nine months to complete.”

Baron said the municipality had already started investigating areas where it could find boreholes containing large quantities of water until the plant was completed.

“It would not make sense to sink these boreholes unless we know there is enough water below.

“The recent rains we received did a lot to stabilise the situation, because Churchill Dam was sitting on 10% and now we are on 20%, so that is a major shift, but we are not out of the drought yet and we still need people to adhere to our water restrictions,” Baron added.

Although the emergency funding had not become available yet, it would only be a matter of time.

“We have been declared a disaster area, so the government has a legal responsibility to approve the emergency funding.

“It is only a question of how much and when we will receive it.”

Source: Weekend Post

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