GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Use water sparingly. That was the message of senior officials of the Department of Water and Sanitation in the Western Cape when they visited the region last Thursday, 29 April, to take stock of the water situation.
They talked to stakeholders and the media at the Wolwedans Dam near Great Brak River. The Wolwedans Dam is the main source of water for the Mossel Bay municipality as well as for PetroSA.
The visit formed part of broader monitoring of the Western Cape water situation to ensure sustainable water supply.
Acting Head of the Department of Water and Sanitation in the Western Cape, Boniswa Hene, said while the department is satisfied with the water storage dams across the Western Cape, the Gouritz River Catchment System remains a concern.
This catchment area covers the Little Karoo, the Central Karoo and the coastal belt of the Southern Cape. Over the last five years, rainfall in the catchment area has been consistently lower than normal, leading to water stressed conditions.
A hydrological report of 26 April indicates that the water situation in the Little Karoo and the Gouritz River Catchment is dire. This could have a devastating impact on the farming economy.
While the Wolwedans Dam is still above 60%, the combined average dam levels in the Gouritz River System is 25,40% and it will take significant rains to recharge these dams.
Hene said the department is very concerned about unlawful water use such as illegal abstraction of water and the diversion of rivers and streams.
This adds pressure to already strained water resources.
She warned that the department has proof of illegal water use and will determine who the perpetrators are.
She also highlighted the problem of vandalism to water infrastructure, which is causing great concern in the department. Vandalism is a crime that causes inconvenience and unnecessary costs.
She said community members and leaders must make sure vandalism does not happen.
She also encouraged people to look at alternative sources of water.
Hene asked people to use water sparingly, whether it is for industrial, domestic or agriculture use.
"If you don't have water, you don't have life," she said. "We cannot make water. We can only save the little we have."
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