The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is currently in the process of publishing a gazette on water restrictions to limit the use of water for urban and irrigation purposes from Sehujwane, Marico-Bosveld, Kromellenboog, Swartruggens, Pella, Madikwe, Molatedi, Lindleyspoort, Setumo and Koster dams and river systems respectively.
The restrictions are a result of the continuing drought which has seen these dams operating at below normal water levels and are aimed at mitigating the risk of complete system failure to supply water.
The restrictions will be implemented to safeguard water supply to the users of water from these dams and river systems to ensure that all users, both domestic and agriculture, receive their fair share of the available water during the current drought period.
“Due to the critical low levels at these dams together with the lack of seasonal rainfall and lack of runoff during the past few months, we did an analysis which determined the need for implementing restrictions on the use of water from these dams,” said Dr Tseliso Ntili, Acting Provincial Head at North West DWS.
The analyses were done by means of an operational model called the Water Resource Yield Model (WRYM) using stochastic analysis of hydrological records. The DWS also consulted relevant stakeholders who included local municipalities, district municipalities and commercial agriculture.
Through the analyses, it was discovered that Sehujwane, Swartruggens and Koster dams are over-utilised and domestic water demand has outgrown supply to such an extent that restrictions have to be implemented at 100% and additional sources of water supply need to be developed urgently.
The Swartruggens Dam in Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality and Wentzel dam in Mamusa Local Municipality are already dry and cannot be used. The department is currently assisting with tankering whilst also exploring other short term interventions including underground water source development.
In Ngaka Modiri Molema there are also challenges in rural areas with boreholes drying up and issues of vandalism of water infrastructure which leads to rampant water shortages. The department has provided 25 trucks as a relief measure in the province.
DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau highlighted that, in addition to the analyses and recommendations of the DWS and stakeholders, expected reservoir trajectories for all major dams in the North West Province, in particular the abovementioned dams, have been developed to monitor the situation for possible easing or intensifying of restrictions.