A large part of the Eastern Cape has been declared a drought disaster area, especially the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal area and surrounding municipalities
Current Nelson Mandela Bay Municipal dam levels
As at 13 August 2018 the average total combined capacity for the Nelson Mandela Metro dams is at 18.40% (Kouga – 6.88%, Churchill – 15.94%, Impofu “largest capacity” – 28.44%, Loerie “small balancing dam only” – 96.00% and Groendal – 39.18%). The period from October 2016 to September 2017 and again from February 2018 to date has been exceptionally dry, leading to the disaster declaration we currently have.
NMBM Water Restrictions
Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay and surrounding regions feeding off the same dams have been restricted to a daily water consumption of 50L per person. Water tariffs have also been escalated to try and curb excessive water usage.What does this mean for farmers in the affected areas?
Citrus Farmers hit hardest by drought
Citrus and livestock farming are the two main contributors to the Eastern Cape Agricultural sector . Currently, citrus farmers have lost between R1 billion and R1.5 billion in revenue as a result of the continued drought. Bad harvests have reduced the Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC) from 10 million cartons of citrus to seven million cartons for export.
If good rains aren’t received soon, the effects may be even worse, and life stock farmers will start feeling the pinch too. All of this has of course also led to significant job losses in this sector which is also devastating to these families.
Western Cape dam levels
The average dam levels for the Western Cape Water Supply System have increased by nearly 5% since last week, says the Department of Water and Sanitation's regional office.
According to assessments on Monday, dam levels have increased from 48.33% last week to 53.05% on Monday, with the Theewaterskloof Dam, the largest dam in the system, nearly doubling in capacity compared to the same time the previous year.
The department's regional head, Rashid Khan, said they hoped for more rain during the winter rainfall season which would be a significant step towards increasing water security in the province. He said despite the improvements, residents in the province still had to continue saving water in the face of climate change and change how they consume water.
Water Restrictions in the Western Cape remain in place
"The prevailing water restrictions will remain in force until our dam levels reach more than 85% as a collective average of the dams in the Western Cape," Khan said.
"It is not the intention of this department to curtail water users at the household sphere of governance to 50 litres of water per person per day."
Khan said a collective effort by both local and national government should be made to guard against complacency and for both to work seamlessly towards higher levels of water security.
The department said it was pleased with the much-needed rainfall and hoped it would continue to fill the dams to storage levels above 85%.