The Department of Water and Sanitation has allocated R230 million to Amatola Water for a period of three years to assist the Eastern Cape to mitigate the effects of drought.
This follows a visit by Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, to the Eastern Cape in January 2020, where she met with the provincial government to discuss plans to mitigate drought in the province after the Premier had declared a Provincial State of Disaster.
During her visit in January 2020, Sisulu proposed and encouraged that the issue of drought be looked into by way of cooperation among the three spheres of government, including communities and the private sector.
The Minister also directed that some of the measures that will be used to mitigate the effects of drought include the drilling and equipping of boreholes, desalination, and water carting and desilting.
Water and Sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the department, through its entities Amatola Water and Rand Water, together with Amathole District Municipality, have doubled their efforts to ensure that the residents of Butterworth and surrounding areas have sufficient water.
"Since the start of the lockdown, government has delivered 171 water trucks and 5 694 water tanks to all municipalities in the Eastern Cape, since the Coronavirus pandemic arrived in our country.
"Further, the department has delivered 756 water tanks to priority schools around the Eastern Cape. All this is done to improve water supply and mitigate drought, as well as curb the spread of the pandemic," Ratau said.
Concerns over Mnquma water security
Meanwhile, the department said low water levels in Xilinxa Dam and Gcuwa Weir have raised serious concerns for water security in Mnquma.
According to the recent dam levels report issued this week, the two dams in Mnquma have dropped substantially, with their levels reaching 0.6% and 6.2%, respectively.
Ratau said the department's intervention in Mnquma has seen an increase in the number of water tankers from three Amathole District Municipality owned trucks.
Eleven trucks are mobilised through Amatola Water Board, including six from Amathole District, as approved reprioritised funds by the department.
Ratau said an additional 10 trucks will be delivered by Rand Water, once their procurement process has been finalised by today.
"Amathole District Municipality and the department, through Amatola Water Board, will also increase the number of water tanks by another 50, bringing the total to 150 water tanks with a capacity of 5 000 litres, adding to those which were delivered since the start of lockdown to improve water service delivery in Mnquma Local Municipality to curb the spread of Coronavirus and mitigate the effects of the devastating drought.
"A number of boreholes have also been drilled to increase water delivery in Mnquma Local Municipality. These are serving as sources for the current tankering services. Twenty-four temporary boreholes have been drilled across Butterworth of which four of these have been equipped with hand pumps and are producing good quality water for human consumption," Ratau said.
Water pipe project
Ratau also announced that the department will, by the end of October 2020, establish a site office for the Tsomo-Ngqamakhwe Phase 5, a water pipeline project that will cost R735 million.
"The department has set aside R50 million in this financial year to start this project. The project will develop work packages to benefit small, medium and micro enterprises. It is expected to take a period of 18 months to completion.
"The department will [also] raise the wall of Gcuwa Weir to increase capacity of the weir for more water storage. The project designs are underway and physical construction will start in 2021. It is expected to take 6 - 12 months to complete," Ratau said.
The department has urged communities to work with government in protecting all water infrastructure to benefit everyone. It further appealed to all to report acts of vandalism of water infrastructure because it negatively impacts water supply.