South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is facing water service shedding as its supply dams dropped to critically low levels this month.
Municipal statistics on Monday 13th June showed that the second largest dam supplying the district – the Impofu Dam - had effectively run out of water, while the Churchill dam had just 11 days of water left and the Loerie dam had 37 days left. Only the Groendal dam, which was at 22% capacity, had a relatively safe 168 days of supply left.
One week later, the municipality decided to reduce the withdrawals from the Churchill dam from 60 megalitres per day to 25 megalitres per day in an attempt to stretch its water reserves.
Heavy rains fell on the 24th of June, with 55mm falling in the catchment area for the Impofu and Churchill dams, promising some relief for supplies from these dams. Nevertheless, an emergency water plan was activated for the municipality to avoid overextraction of the Churchill dam. This plan affects more than 200 residential and industrial areas, with a targeted reduction in consumption by 50 million litres per day for the municipality as a whole.
Nelson Mandela Bay has faced seven years of drought, with annual rainfall well below the long-term average. Iinfrastructure development and maintenance has faced problems in the past, as a major project to connect local supplies to the Gariep dam have faced various delays, and the municipality faced a large backlog on responses to reported leaks. The Municipality started an all-out drive to repair leaks in the second half of June and had repaired a total of 1,400 at the time of writing.