Drought-stricken Makhanda’s water woes are getting worse. After having dry taps for over a week, residents now have to deal with dirty water. The municipality was forced to turn off the pumps at the treatment works due to operational issues.
Mildred Jacobs, one resident, said, “the situation is very painful. It’s difficult to do washing or bath properly, as you need to use water sparingly.”
The problem started when water from the Fish River was pumped into Glen Melville dam, which was sitting at below 13 percent, due to the drought.
The rush of water into the dam has caused excessive turbulence. The James Kleynhuis treatment works are now working overtime, separating the mud from the water to make sure it’s safe for human consumption but the process is slow and painstaking. Meanwhile, the Gift of the Givers has stepped in, delivering 35,000 5-litre water bottles, bringing some relief.
The Unemployed Peoples’ Movement has slammed the Makana Municipality over water shortages in Makhanda, the town formally known as Grahamstown. Residents have taken to the streets in protest and have marched on the city hall this week to highlight their grievances. The province is currently facing the worst drought in years. The Settlers Dam is currently 11% full, while the Howieson’s Poort Dam is standing at 23%.
The Unemployed Peoples’ Movement is demanding the municipality come up with a plan to deal with the water crisis. Spokesperson Ayanda Kota says residents are already living in day zero and it’s unacceptable. He says some residents are experiencing water cuts for more than a week at time, while others are having to stand in long queues for fresh water.
“We don’t have water; at times, you will not have water for a week. If there is water, it’s contaminated.” Kota says the water crisis cannot be resolved with boreholes. “We believe they don’t have alternatives because we think there has to be a public gathering [and] there must be dialogue on the issues. This is an urgent crisis, it’s not something that will go away tomorrow.”
The organisation says residents will continue to mobilise until their demands are met. The municipality is yet to respond