RESIDENTS of Modimolle in Limpopo continue to live in fear following the Department of Water and Sanitation’s announcement that the water level was worrisomely low.
The announcement was made during a campaign to warn residents to use water sparingly. Donkerpoort Dam in Modimolle stands at 14% whilst Frikkie Geyser Dam in Mookgopong is at 12 %.
The department described the situation as worrisome and residents may end up with dry taps. The department also pointed out that the situation may be aggravated by illegal connections.
Scientific manager Thabo Masike said officials had picked up several illegal water connections within the area: “We have picked up illegal connections when we installed water meters. But we had to first make sure that the meters were in good working conditions for us to take readings. If we find that a certain household is not using water sparingly, we then have to call the municipality through their enforcement agency to send officials into that area where there are illegal connections.
“Water is a basic human right and normally when we find that there is a situation of illegal connections, it is a responsibility of the municipality to convert that illegality into legality by rolling out programs of awareness through ward councillors engaging with the residents.”
He said that due to the area being farming-orientated, officials have also informed farmers about using water sparingly: “The farmers must continue to use water within the current lawful quarter allocations. Because the other thing we would like to do is to improve the efficiency of water use. As South Africa, we are a country that is still in the developing stage. So, we want to see more black farmers continuing with farming. The only way we are going to improve water supply to our farmers is when we improve efficiency of water use.”
The municipality received a R5 million allocation to address the crisis. Speaking to African Times, Mayor Marlene Van Staden said: “We created this awareness so that people can understand the impact of the water crisis and also to help people lower their water usage. As the municipality we have not been taking a long time to start events like these. It just took a while to get the Department of Water and Sanitation excited enough to come and assist us. The department has been assisting us non-stop since 2016 already.”
However, the DA-led municipality has been criticised by residents for acting slowly on the crisis. Many residents complained about the contamination of water to Phagameng township.
Michael Molokong said: “They said that we only have 14% of water and that will only last us a month. The water that we receive is brown. We cannot even drink this water because it’s brown. What is worse is that the water sometimes runs out and some of us cannot afford to buy it. But white people are able to do that, so we just have to drink this brown water.”
Ishmael Matebe said that they were all affected by the crisis and that he feared that their lives were placed in danger. “When you open water in the morning, you will find that the water is brown so we have to use our own money to buy water here in town but they also say that it is democracy.”
But Van Staden explained that the discoloration of water was due to pipe linings: “We do not have separate water systems for separate parts of town. We get water from three sources, Magalies Water, boreholes and Donkerpoort Dam. All of them come to the same system and get distributed.
“However we did have problems with brown discoloration of water in some areas of town. It is not only Phagameng. Bosveldsig which is in the higher lying areas of town, they are normally the number one people who are affected because if the water pressure is low they do not get water.”