Humanitarian crisis potentially looming as Metro faces severe water shortages



news-396-689-denise-van-huyssteen-1.jpg Denise Van Huyssteen

Nelson Mandela Bay is potentially facing a humanitarian crisis where a serious water shortage and accompanying collapse of the sanitation system may lockdown more than a third of the Metro from the supply of critical water and sanitation services.

“Parts of the city only have 42 days of water left and even more alarming, consumption across the Metro has not reduced from 280 ML to 230 ML per day to delay and potentially prevent this situation from happening. When the overall dam levels reach around 10%, more than a third of the Metro is likely to have no water and along with this there is the high possibility that the sewerage system will collapse,” says Denise van Huyssteen, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

She further emphasises that this will affect hospitals, businesses, restaurants and residents in the affected areas. “Many will not be able to use their toilets at home and or at work due to a water and sanitation lockdown. This is an emergency and to prevent this disaster from happening, we must radically reduce our water consumption levels now.”

“If we don’t save water, we will have a health crisis on our hands.”

She appeals to residents to play their part by reducing water usage to essential use only, reusing water from showers or baths to flush toilets, reusing water from washing clothes to water gardens or wash cars and windows, and other household items. “The severity of the city’s water supply requires people not to allow others, who may not be directly impacted, to put us into a water and sanitation lockdown through their unacceptable actions. If we do not immediately save water to prevent this water and sanitation crisis from happening, this will impact directly upon jobs in the tourism, hospitality, retail and other sectors. Now is the time for Ubuntu. Let’s all pull together to prevent a water and sanitation lockdown from happening in Nelson Mandela Bay,” emphasises Van Huyssteen.

As a show of Ubuntu as responsible citizens, residents should refrain from selling municipal water as this stealing. Selling of borehole water is also prohibited, as it is illegal to do so. Residents are also required not to top up their swimming pools with municipal water but rather collect water from designated municipal boreholes. Additionally, residents should not bypass their water meters as this is illegal and carries a fine. 

Van Huyssteen says that it is also vital that the Municipality accelerates its efforts to resolve water leaks, as this accounts for around 35% of the Metro’s water losses. “Council has approved the adjustment budget and it is critical that funds are now prioritised to get some urgency behind resolving the water leaks.”

Residents and businesses are encouraged to report all water leaks to 0800 20 5050 or waterleaks@mandelametro.gov.za.