The Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation has called on the public to reduce their water consumption as much as possible during and shortly after load shedding. This is due to the continued long periods of Eskom blackouts, which have put pressure on the infrastructure. The Western Cape’s Department of Water and Sanitation held a media briefing in Cape Town to address this issue.
The dam levels in the Western Cape are currently sitting at just over 55%, which is more than 20% lower than the same time last year. However, the authorities have stated that this is not a critical issue. They have also emphasized that water is and will always be a scarce resource in South Africa.
Load shedding has had a significant impact on the water systems, particularly on pumps that ensure proper sanitation and clean drinking water. Therefore, the department has requested the public to be very stringent with water usage during load shedding. DWS Provincial Department Head, Ntombizanele Bila-Mupariwa, highlighted that when the electricity comes back, it takes time for the pumps to get going again, which affects the flow of water. Sometimes, the water flows very slowly. Bila-Mupariwa further added that “by the time the pump has kicked in, it creates a huge pressure in the system.”
The department has stated that it is satisfied that municipalities in the province are working to ensure backup plans and systems are in place during outages. However, vandalism is becoming a cancer in societies as infrastructure is targeted throughout the system. Nomvuyiseko Tumana, Acting Director for Water and Sanitation Services Support, emphasized that “there’s a criminal element involved in infrastructure vandalism, and we brought the law enforcement and the scrapyard owners so that whatever cases are being brought forward the scrapyard owners are able to say that these are the goods that are being stolen in our communities and the perpetrators are sometimes known in the communities.”
The department has budgeted three billion rand for the next three fiscal years to fund infrastructure across the province. Work is also expected to finally commence in April on the dam wall at Clanwilliam. In conclusion, it is essential to conserve water during load shedding to ensure that the water systems function effectively.