The Gamtoos Valley towns of Hankey and Patensie face severe water shortages if good rains don’t fall in the catchment area of the Kouga Dam within the next few weeks.
The level of the Kouga Dam, which is the main water source to both towns, dropped to an alarming 7,17 %.
Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks called on all residents, businesses and visitors to use water only when absolutely necessary.
“There has been a big increase in the amount of water used by these towns over the past two weeks. If the trend continues, the taps could run dry within the next few weeks,” he warned.
According to the latest figures supplied by the Gamtoos Irrigation Board, Patensie used up its entire quota for July during the first two weeks of the month.
A total of 23 262 kl of water was used from 1 to 14 July. The monthly target is 23 044 kl.
In Hankey the situation is even more dire. The total usage for the first two weeks of July was 32 833 kl.
This is already far more than the target of 24 833kl for the whole month.
“It is not unusual for there to be a steep spike in water usage during July,” Hendricks said.
“Every year the water supply to the towns are switched off for two to three weeks in June to allow the Gamtoos Irrigation Board to perform maintenance on the canal system.
Once the water supply is restored, people tend to go overboard and use far more water than usual.
“We would like to plead with residents to cut back their water usage drastically as an extreme matter of urgency.”
He said the municipality might have to consider rationing water to the towns so as to ensure the remaining water lasts for as long as is possible.
“The municipality has, since the beginning of the year, installed 90 rainwater tanks at strategic places, including municipal buildings, at the towns.
“We have also been searching for underground water. Exploratory boreholes have been drilled at the Kouga Dam and near Zuurbron.
While we did strike water, the yields appear low. We are awaiting the final test results.”
The Kouga region as a whole is a drought disaster area and residents have been called on to use less than 50 litres of water per person per day.
The combined levels of the supply dams dropped to 18,88% this week.