The Department of Water and Sanitation has allocated R18 million to JS Moroka Local Municipality to address water shortages in Mpumalanga.

The municipality has experienced water supply challenges due to persistent drought resulting from low river flows and the subsequent drying of dams.

The dam located in Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga, serves as the main source of raw water for the vast semi-rural communities of Dr JS Moroka Local Municipality, Thembisile Hani Local Municipality and Sekhukhune District Municipality.

Due to recurring drought conditions, Mkhombo Dam levels dropped to 1% in June 2019, which has been declining since the onset of the drought in 2014.

The declining trend is due to the fact that in addition to abstractions to meet raw water demand, the shallow dam basin and large surface area set the stage for elevated evaporation.

“The Mkhombo Dam catchment is characterised by low seasonal rainfall and low runoff, which has since been magnified by prevailing drought conditions. Mkhombo Dam has a storage capacity of 205 million cubic meters but over the years, it has hardly ever filled up due to its catchment characteristics,” the department said.

To address the situation, the department has allocated R18 million to the municipality for groundwater development under the drought relief intervention.

“Through the intervention, 11 boreholes are undergoing refurbishment, while 15 new boreholes have been drilled, giving a total of 26 boreholes and two package plants. Work progress is 80%.

“As part of the interventions to ensure that communities have access to water, groundwater was identified as one of the key interventions and drought relief funded boreholes were prioritised,” the department explained.

The municipality is expected to complete the groundwater intervention project by 15 July 2019.

The department has urged communities to be water-wise and use the available water in the most of conservative ways.