In an effort to ensure that taps in the West Coast district municipal area don’t run dry by 24 April 2018, the Water and Sanitation Department (DWS) will release five million cubic metres of water from Voelvlei and Berg River dams.
“While a great deal of media and public attention has been given to the drought as it affects the City of Cape Town, the impacts are province-wide and today we must focus on the dire situation which is developing in the West Coast district municipal area, which includes the municipalities of Bergriver, Saldanha Bay and Swartland,” said Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti.
The decision to release water was reached after a meeting was held by the Western Cape MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, senior officials of the Department of Water and Sanitation, mayors and engineering staff of West Coast municipalities.
“Based on assessments carried out by my department together with the province and the municipalities, it is estimated that the water from the Misverstand Dam could run out by 24 April.
“The department will release up to five million cubic metres of water from both the Voelvlei and Bergriver Dams. The release will be initiated between 17 and 20 April 2018 to ensure that the water reaches Misverstand Dam,” said Minster Nkwinti.
He made the announcement at a media briefing held on Tuesday in Cape Town. The Minister was accompanied by MEC Bredell at the briefing.
The West Coast District Municipality supplies water to these municipalities from either the Voelvlei Dam or Misterverstand Dams, which are currently experiencing dwindling dam levels.
However, both these dams have reached dangerously low levels and according to the department, there are physical constraints in abstracting from the lower levels of these dams.
Additional action to curb drought
In addition to the release of water from the Bergriver to Misverstand Dam, the following actions will be implemented to ensure that domestic and agricultural water is secured for residents:
• All municipalities must intensify the application of restrictions to ensure that they comply with the provisions of the restrictions, as published in the December 2017 and January 2018 Government Gazette;
• Municipalities must revisit their implementation plans for the augmentation projects to secure earlier delivery dates;
• A joint communications approach (National, Provincial and Local) will be followed during and after the release of water from the upper dams in the systems.
The river reach from Berg River Dam to Misverstand Dam is approximately 138 kilometres and it is estimated that it will take seven days for the first water to reach Misverstand Dam.
“It is also important to note that once the release starts, which will be in the order of 20 cumecs, the Emergency Preparedness Plan will be initiated through the relevant Disaster Management Centres, as there could be some localised flooding immediately adjacent to the river. Communities must be made aware and take necessary precautions during the release period,” said Minister Nkwinti.
Despite the release of water to ensure adequate supply to municipalities, users are reminded that their water use is still restricted.
“The releases from Berg River and Voëlvlei Dams to Misverstand are a transfer for basic human consumption. Users are requested to refrain from pumping during this transfer period and also to safeguard their pumps during this higher flow period,” said the Minister.