Water shortages couldn't be avoided, claims dept

Water department issued a notice to big metros and municipalities to limit water use in urban areas.

FILE: The water level of the Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town dropped to around 30 percent in March 2016. It is the largest of five major dams supplying drinking water to the city. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Water and Sanitation insists the current water shortages at feeder dams are due to the drought and could not have been planned for or avoided.

Last Friday, the department issued a notice to big metros and municipalities to limit water use in urban areas by 15% and irrigation usage by 20%.

Water management professor at the University of the Free State Anthony Turton say municipalities are likely to implement new tariff by-laws or the reduction of water pressure in certain areas.

The department's Sputnik Ratau says the restrictions are the best way to manage an unavoidable situation.

"I'm not sure what an engineer can do about the drought that is happening because it is a natural phenomenon even if you have the best qualifications."

But Turton has accused government of folding their arms for too long and waited until the end of elections before dealing with the crisis.

"Political games are being played with a national resource that is of great importance to the creation of jobs and the restoration of our economy."

It's not clear how the restrictions will be implemented or when they will begin to affect customers but Eyewitness News understands municipalities in Gauteng have been meeting to chart a way forward.