The Department of Water and Sanitation has marginally eased farmers’ Kouga Dam water allocations from 20% to 40% of their usual annual drawings, after negotiations with the Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB) and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality earlier this week.
The department’s move follows rains in the region which raised the level of the dam in September from 7% to its current 54%, with the combined levels of dams in the Algoa water system also sitting at 54%.
But farmers and the irrigation board, while grateful for the marginal easing of restrictions, maintain that the department could have been more lenient.
“There is more water available, and the allocation could perhaps have been increased to 60%. But we are grateful to the department – and especially to the department’s regional representatives – for fighting to achieve the lifting of restrictions to 40% [of farmers’ annual allocations],” said GIB CEO Pierre Joubert, adding that 200 farmers drew water from the dam.
“If the Algoa system reaches 65%, then all restrictions pertaining to irrigation will be lifted per the government regulations.”
GIB chairman and farmer in the valley, Tertius Meyer, agreed that the department had erred on the side of caution and could have been more lenient.
“In October 2017, the Kouga Dam was at 12,4% capacity and farmers were allocated 40% [of the usual annual water allocation].
Today the dam is sitting at over 50%, yet they get the same allocation. It just does not make sense,” said Meyer.
GIB financial and HR manager Rienette Colesky she the increased allocation, however marginal, was still welcome.
“The news is welcome,” she said.
“Farmers using the Kouga system were under severe stress due to the extremely low water allocation. This will make a bit of a difference and we can all breathe a little easier.”
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