Buffalo City Metro residents should brace themselves for water restrictions and higher punitive tariffs.
This comes as council approved water restrictions which came into effect last week.If residents use more water than they are supposed to, they will be slapped with fines as dam levels continue to drop.
A report submitted before the council by BCM city manager Andile Sihlahla revealed that in February the Bridle Drift Dam, which supplies water mainly to East London and Mdantsane areas, stood at 51.4%.
This was a 37% decline from last year’s 88.5%.
The dam level dropped below its red line of 40% last month, recording 39.1%.
Sihlahla said the water level was dropping at an average of 0.8% per week at Bridle Drift.
In February, the Nahoon Dam was at 65.1% and last month it recorded 47.8%.
However, Laing Dam was 99.5% in February and 101.5% last month and Rooikrantz was 84.4% in February and 90.3% last month.
The water restrictions mean:
lWashing and rinsing of clothes under an open public stand pipe is prohibited;
lWindows and buildings can be washed at any time but only with a bucket and mop, squeegee or brush or with a high-pressure low-volume cleaner. Otherwise, water must not be used unless necessary as a result of accident, fire, health hazard or other emergency. Building gutters may be cleaned at any time;
lAny vehicle should be washed on a lawn or other porous surface and may only be washed once a week by using a bucket or watering can, a high-pressure low-volume cleaner or a handheld hose fitted with a trigger nozzle. There is no restriction on commercial car wash operations;
lExisting swimming pools must not be emptied or refilled without written exemption. Any swimming pool not previously filled must not be filled without written exemption, and previously filled pools may only be topped up by using a handheld hose;
lWater must not be used to clean paved areas unless necessary as a result of an accident, fire, health hazard or other emergency;
lOnly fountains that recirculate water may be operated and topped up by using a handheld hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, a bucket or a watering can;
lNo potable water may be used for any construction work or maintenance work, including jetting of sewer manholes and storm water pipes; and
lFor private gardens, commercials nurseries, market gardens and turf-growing businesses, BCM residents are urged to use sprinklers and other irrigation systems only between 7am and 10am and between 7pm and 10pm on alternate days.
The restrictions and tariffs will be implemented in various stages depending on the volume of water available in the dams.
“There is a significant drop in dam levels in some of the main dams when compared to the same period last year, which indicates that a drought situation is closely approaching the municipality if the expected rains do not materialise this coming summer,” Sihlahla said.
The accounting officer said a drought situation constituted the Wriggleswade or Rooikrantz dams falling below 60%, or the Bridle Drift below 40%.
Sihlahla said they would have to transfer water from the Wriggleswade Dam to the Bridle Drift but it was unclear how much this would actually cost.
An awareness campaign is being planned regarding the water situation.