Nelson Mandela Bay residents seek divine intervention to help end drought

A series of church services have been held since Sunday to pray for rain.

Picture: icefront/

CAPE TOWN - Nelson Mandela Bay residents are seeking divine intervention as it deals with an extended drought in its eighth year.

Combined dam levels have reached an all-time low of just below 15%.

A series of church services have been held since Sunday to pray for rain.

Mayor Retief Odendaal said that the situation was dire.

"We've just decommissioned the Impofu dam, which is our largest storage dam, so we really have severe a drought and it's very difficult circumstance here in Nelson Mandela Bay. On a daily basis, we find it difficult to supply enough water to provide sufficient supply for the demand."

He said that the Impofu Dam, which was built in 1983, was not built to be operated below 16%.

"We built some barges to try and mount manual pumps to extract below 16% whereas we've actually expected the dam to about 7%. It's never been that low, it's a record low capacity for that dam and unfortunately, we can't just extract any more water from it."

The city has invested over R1.2 billion to implement a number of water augmentation and drought mitigation projects and Odendaal said that he was very proud of the progress made.

"By March, the majority of our groundwater projects would be completed, which will add about 30 megalitres of water to reticulation on a daily basis and that makes up roughly about 10% of our daily consumptions, so we are making a lot of progress with finalising our drought mitigation and augmentation projects."

Odendaal says Eskom's power cuts had also impacted the municipality's ability to provide water to residents.

"When we started extracting from the Churchill Dam, we were load shed and that caused havoc because the zone at the Churchill Dam then provided water, we just couldn't get enough water through to our residents, so we declared a dispute with Eskom, which they ignored, and we had to set in with legal action before they actually stopped shedding us."

He said that this was a major concern.

"We are very concerned about the attitude that Eskom takes when it comes to water resources and load shedding, it is absolutely unacceptable, and I'll be advising my colleagues across the country to take a hard stance when Eskom doesn't come to the party in trying to accommodate the municipalities."