- Several neighbourhoods in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality are already past Day Zero, the point where municipal taps don’t supply water anymore.
- Tankers are therefore supplying water to these areas.
- The dam levels are below 19%.
- Besides drought, the dire situation has been caused by the municipality failing to replace and repair old infrastructure, or sufficiently reduce leakage.
- Consumption per person appears to be too high as well.
Many Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality residents are already experiencing Day Zero, with tanks delivering water to them daily. The situation is worse in the western areas like St Albans, and in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage. Residents of these neighbourhoods are blaming the municipality for managing the situation poorly.
The constant need to repair decaying infrastructure, slow response to fix leaks and residents drawing water recklessly from tankers is worsening the situation.
On 17 September the national Department of Water and Sanitation released a statement of concern about water supplies in the Eastern Cape, but nevertheless was “confident that water in storage will sustain the province’s communities until the next summer rains”. Nelson Mandela Bay gets most of its rain from September to April, with a peak typically in November.
On the same day the department released another statement on drought interventions in the Kouga Local Municipality, which is adjacent to Nelson Mandela Bay, and in which lie three of the five dams that supply water to Nelson Mandela Bay. The department announced that it had transferred R92 million to the Kouga Municipality “to ensure continued and uninterrupted water supply in the area”. Interventions include boreholes, and repairs to leaks. The department expects these to be complete by end of the month.
Residents of St Albans informal settlement, which has about 1,000 people living in shacks, share five water tankers with a capacity of 5,000 litres of water each.
Nolumanyano Windvogel has a family of four. She said that water problems have hit the area for the past 18 months. But Day Zero hit on 4 September. That’s when taps were replaced by the tankers. Windvogel complained that the tank does not supply enough water. The supply, she said, is finished in under three hours.
“Then we are forced to let our children wear their dirty white shirts for three days or keep them at home. Sometimes we skip two days without taking a bath,” she said.
She said harvesting rainwater was helping her a lot. “When the clouds get dark I get excited and pray for the rain to fall. I harvest rainwater with my drum.”
“When our communal water tanks are dry. I drink that water. I also do my pile of stinking washing that I have been stuck with for three weeks,” she said.