26 February 2013

Namibia: Windhoek Faces Water Crisis

Windhoek — The poor rainy season has serious water shortage implications for the entire City of Windhoek that could face water rationing for the first time in many years.

According to the Strategic Executive for Infrastructure, Water and Technical Services, Piet du Pisani, the city will be forced to implement planned shutdowns, starting in May if no significant rains fall in March.

"We are in February and no rain. There is no inflow. There is a concern not for the short-term but the long-term. The current rainy season has yielded nothing," Du Pisani said. The current rainy season is supposed to end in April, while the next rainy season is only supposed to start in November.

Du Pisani said the flow of water from NamWater would be shut down for certain periods, for example for a day, while the pipeline from Von Bach Dam to Windhoek is being upgraded.

"But we will make sure that our reservoirs are full and that supply is secured before such shutdowns," Du Pisani added.

In January this year Windhoek received a mere 21.6mm of rain compared to 59.2mm of rainfall in 2012 and 384mm in January 2011.

In February 2013, Windhoek only received 29.8mm compared to the 180.2mm that was received in February 2012 and the 175.1mm it received in February 2011.

Windhoek usually has an average rainfall of 152.1mm in January and an average of 151mm in February. In late January, city authorities requested all customers within the Windhoek area and the Von Bach Dam supply scheme area to use water sparingly for a few days in order for the reservoirs to fill up.

Damage, caused by lightning to infrastructure supplying Windhoek with water resulted in the temporary disruption of the water supply to the capital at that time.

Although the damaged infrastructure was repaired within hours and the water supply restored, the high water demand, made it difficult for the city to fill the reservoirs and maintain an adequate and safe supply of water.

At the time, the city implemented a measure that prohibited the watering of gardens between 10h00 and 16h00 for seven days so as to allow the reservoirs to fill up. The measures were necessary to avoid a crisis should any disruption occur again in the water supply of the capital.

Du Pisani however did not want to divulge too much at this stage, since city authorities and NamWater are expected to issue a joint statement on the situation mid-week.

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