Water will be cut off in the towns of Hankey and Patensie in the Eastern Cape from Monday and only switched on again for short periods to stretch what little is left in the Kouga Dam, the municipality has announced.
"We have been trying to delay the need for water shedding, but the situation is critical and we cannot avoid it any longer," said Kouga Municipality mayor Horatio Hendricks.
He said water to the towns would be switched off for the greater part of the day, with two "washing days" during which water will be available for a bit longer. The two "washing days" will be Wednesdays and Saturdays.
On these days, water will be available from 04:30 to 11:00, and then again from 16:00 to 20:00.
On the other five days, water will only be available only from 04:30 to 08:00 and then from 16:00 to 20:00.
The towns are situated near Jeffreys Bay and rely on the Kouga dam for its water supply.
The mayor warned that if no rain falls in the catchment area of the dam, Hankey and Patensie could have no water left in three months.
Hendricks said some people had been using more than they should, but the municipality was also working on a leak detection and repair programme to cut wastage.
In the meantime, municipal spokesperson Laura-Leigh Randal said 90 rainwater tanks were placed at strategic points in Hankey and Patensie by the municipality earlier this year. All schools and clinics had received rain water tanks.
The municipality has also applied for drought relief funding.
There are no hospitals in the affected area; the nearest being in Humansdorp which is not affected by the water rationing.
The municipality is also planning a water drive in partnership with local retail shops and is negotiating for discounts on bottled water as part of this drive. Details on this will be finalised this week.
Earlier this year, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize said the national state of disaster over drought had lapsed and would not be renewed on June 13 when it expired.
However, the Western Cape would remain a provincial disaster.
The drought disaster declaration was made in March.
In May, the National Joint Drought Coordinating Committee conducted assessments that showed that the acute phase of the drought in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape was at its end and was now entering the "resilience-building phase".