Hankey Water Crises is a national concern

The water crisis in Hankey and Patensie has become a matter of national interest.In her opening remarks at a special Council meeting last week Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen said day zero for these towns, which depend 100% on the Kouga Dam for water, was fast approaching.

“The initial estimate for Day Zero – the day the Kouga Dam dries up – was mid-March, but there has been a slight rise in the dam level this past week,” she said.

“While this buys us a little more time, we cannot afford to sit back.”

She said the municipality had a costed emergency action plan specifically for Hankey and Patensie, and had been meeting with roleplayers, including the Gamtoos Irrigation Board and Department of Water and Sanitation, about the implementation and funding of those drought relief measures deemed most viable.

“The good news is that Patensie isn’t in immediate danger,” she said.

“We have been assured by the Irrigation Board that their balancing dam in Patensie has sufficient capacity to supply the town with water for several months, even if the Kouga Dam dries up.”

She said Hankey was the main concern where the first exploratory borehole – drilled to a depth of 225m – delivered no yield.

“The challenge is that the geology of Hankey and Patensie is not conducive to groundwater retention, however, we were able to identify a few potential target sites and will continue exploring this option,” she said.

“In the short term the most viable solution for Hankey is the Klein River.

“In order to ensure the water quality is up to standard, we plan on bringing in a reverse osmosis plant.”

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She said rainwater harvesting would also be encouraged among communities, business and other state departments.

“The municipality will be setting the tone by installing rainwater tanks at municipal buildings.”

She said that in the long run, the development of a desalination plant at Jeffreys Bay was the most sustainable solution to meet all of Kouga’s water requirements in the medium to long term.

“If we can supply our coastal towns with desalinated water, their allocations from the supply dam can be used to augment the supply to Hankey and Patensie.

“Sourcing funding for a plant is, therefore, a priority for us. It will cost about R323-million to construct a 15Ml plant which will secure Kouga’s medium-term water requirements.”

In order to raise awareness among our communities, the municipality has been having public meetings in those areas worst affected.

Meetings were held in Patensie, Hankey and Weston last week.

“These meetings are also an opportunity for residents to put ideas on the table, as the drought is a challenge we can only overcome if we are a united front,” Van Lingen said.

Meetings will also be held at Loerie on February 13 and at Thornhill on February 14, although these towns are not in immediate danger.