The Kouga region must break free from its reliance on the official storage dams if water security is to be achieved, said Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks in his recent State of the Municipality Address.
Hendricks said attaining water security for all communities was the biggest challenge currently facing the municipality.
“The Kouga region has been experiencing one of the worst droughts in recorded history. Water restrictions were introduced on December 15, 2016 and have since become the ‘new normal’. A local state of disaster was further declared on May 31, 2017.”
He said the towns worst hit by the drought were Hankey and Patensie.
“Completely dependent on the Kouga Dam for water, the towns faced severe water shortages last year when the dam level dropped to below 7%, forcing the municipality to start rationing the water supply.
“Despite some good rain pushing up the dam level, the municipality has not been able to stop rationing the supply because the national Department of Water and Sanitation has restricted how much water we may draw from the dam.
“If our experience has taught us anything, it is that we need to break Kouga free from its dependence on the official storage dams.
“These dams are all owned by the national Department and also supply water to Nelson Mandela Bay. This quite simply means that they are not managed in the best interest of Kouga’s people.”
He said the focus over the past 14 months has, therefore, been on developing new boreholes to minimise Kouga’s dependency on the dams.
“The municipality initially used its own income to drill at Oyster Bay, Hankey, Patensie and Jeffreys Bay, with 18 of the exploratory holes delivering water, albeit not always of the desired quality and quantity.
“The borehole programme then received a major boost five months ago when two of the municipality’s funding applications for drought relief, totalling R151,2 million, were fully approved by National Treasury.”
He said it was a proud moment for the municipality as applications are seldom fully funded.
“It speaks to the quality of our staff and their commitment towards solving Kouga’s water crisis. I also strongly believe that our ability to spend and our current history of being immune to corruption might have contributed to our good fortune.”
He said the first allocation, of R58,7-million, was awarded through the Provincial Disaster Relief Grant and would help Kouga to achieve water security for 23 868 households.
“A portion of this grant is being used to accelerate the municipality’s borehole programme at Hankey, Patensie, Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and Oyster Bay.
“Of significance, is that it will enable the municipality to start equipping and connecting extra boreholes to the existing water supply.
“This grant funding will also be used to improve the extraction of water from the Klein River at Hankey and to develop the existing springs at Rebelsrus and Mostertshoek in the greater St Francis area.”
He said the second allocation, of R92,5-million, was being funded through the Water Services Infrastructure Grant and was expected to benefit 12 623 households.
R35-million of this money will be put towards upgrading the Jeffreys Bay Water Treatment Works, necessary to bring more boreholes on line, while R20-million will be used to refurbish the springs at Humansdorp.
The remaining R27-million will be used for the municipality’s war on leaks.