The Makana municipality has given the green light to disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers to start drilling boreholes as a medium-term solution to the Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) water crisis.
The town has been without water for the better part of February.
On Thursday morning, Gift of the Givers hydrologist Gideon Groenewald gave the municipality an in-depth presentation on various aspects of the drought with specific solution-oriented options focusing on boreholes as an immediate intervention for medium- to long-term relief.
The NGO's chief executive, Imtiaz Sooliman, says this was necessitated by a "need for a faster system for water sustainability".
"We explained to the municipality that the there is no other way but to drill boreholes and then start the long process of testing the water," said Sooliman. "The municipality agreed because there was no other option."
Sooliman said the drilling rigs would hopefully start moving in on Monday because their rigs are currently deployed elsewhere across the country.
Water distributed to residents
He said the operation would be at the cost of Gift of the Givers.
The NGO's trucks delivered water to residents on Tuesday and Wednesday, after taps in some parts of the town had been running dry for more than eight days.
Five-litre containers were handed out to a long queue of residents outside City Hall, Grocott's Mail reported.
There were cheers and smiles as the truck was quickly emptied. More Gift of the Givers trucks will be arriving throughout the week.
Many schools have suffered as a result of the drought.
Grocott's Mail earlier reported that water shortages led to empty water tanks. By the end of last week, ablution facilities at Makana primary school were unusable due to clogged toilets and the lack of running water.
Should the water crisis persist, schools would have to be forced to send pupils home, the report said.
Meanwhile, at Mary Waters Secondary School, a group of students, in an initiative with Enke Make Your Mark and Ikamva Youth, handed over a 2 500-litre water tank to the school in response to the water crisis.