South Africa: Mahlobo Orders Immediate Intervention to End Mookgophong Water Shortages

Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister, David Mahlobo, has called on department officials, the Modimolle-Mookgophong Local Municipality and the management of a disused tin mine to try to find a solution to acute water shortages in the area.

Mahlobo's call follows his visit to the area on Monday to assess the water problems that have plagued the area for 10 years.

Along with Modimolle District Municipality Mayor, Marilyn Van Baden, Mahlobo held a meeting with the managers of the tin mine outside Mookgophong, where they agreed to use the mine's water resources to supply water to the embattled communities of the citrus town in Limpopo.

During the visit to the mine, the two leaders discovered that there were three boreholes that could be used to pump water to Mookgophong for domestic and agricultural use.

Water levels at the Frikkie Gyssel Dam are so low that it cannot sustain water supply to local water users. Heavy rains that fell in the area over the last few days have also not helped to raise dam levels.

Mahlobo ordered an immediate mobilisation of technology and skills to facilitate a speedy solution to the perennial water problem.

He said modern technology should be mobilised to make interim arrangements to pump water from the mine to local residents for domestic and agricultural use.

Tin mining was discontinued when it became economically redundant. However, water infrastructure remained intact and the mine management still holds water use licence.

The mine owners said infrastructure at the mine has the potential to supply water to needy communities, as it also receives water through Welgevonden Falls.

"In all fairness, I don't think any official can be allowed to take December leave while our people don't have water. I want this project to start immediately. I will return in two to three weeks to check progress made," Mahlobo said.

He said the department will work closely with the municipality to find money for the implementation of the planned water project, and will also enter into negotiations to resolve issues around the mine's water use licence.

"The department will bring legal and technological expertise to find ways of treating mine water and transfer to the community within three to four weeks," Mahlobo said.

A presentation made by municipal water expert, Thabang Selemela, showed that only 12 of 19 boreholes are currently working, and have yielded 2.9 million cubic metres, providing water to 107 699 people.

Selemela said of the 28 977 houses, only 22 627 have access to borehole water.

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