The Western Cape is currently suffering the effects of a prevailing drought and all indications are that the Southern Cape will also be adversely affected in the coming months.
In March this year, the Kannaland Local Municipal area was the first area to be affected and later declared a drought disaster area. Followed by the Oudtshoorn Local Municipal area in the same month. These drought declarations led to the roll-out of the drought support and assistance program of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in these areas.
Preliminary seasonal weather predictions, issued by the South African Weather Service, indicated that the Southern Cape could expect a normal winter rainfall; unfortunately, the re-appearance of the El Nino weather phenomena, changed these predictions with the latest predictions indicating that only approximately 50% of the annual winter rainfall could be expected.
Due to a lack of bulk water storage facilities, the coastal towns of Knysna and Bitou, will always be the first towns in the district to experience challenges in terms of domestic water supply. Both towns have been declared a local drought disaster area, adding to the urgency to have the Western Cape declared a Provincial drought disaster area, on 26 April 2017. The Provincial Cabinet supported this request.
Subsequently to the Provincial drought disaster declaration, the priority drought intervention projects to be implemented at each local municipal area were discussed at the Provincial Disaster Management Advisory Forum meeting earlier this month. In terms of the Eden district drought intervention projects, the value of R104,8 million were listed for consideration by the Departments of Local Government, Water and Sanitation as well as the Department of Agriculture.
In addition to these projects, the Western Cape Government has committed to appoint Geo-Hydrological Engineers at each District, to assist with emergency interventions, for example, groundwater exploration, and to implement groundwater monitoring in areas where groundwater is currently being used. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture will also investigate the drilling of boreholes to augment water supply to hospitals as well as schools in drought prone areas of the district. In addition to these initiatives, a comprehensive community awareness program will be launched in collaboration with each district authority.
We would like to urge the residents of the Eden district to use water wisely and sparingly. The district was also faced with drought conditions in 2009/2010. We were then leading the Province in terms of water saving and water wise practices. It has become time to save water in the same way that we did in 2010.