Water shortage assumes crisis proportions

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Windhoek

As if the country’s suspected looming cash crisis is not enough its water woes have now also reached breaking point, which led to the Windhoek Municipality publicly declaring a water crisis yesterday.
NamWater last year said it needs N$8 billion to fulfill its mandate to provide potable water to all Namibians. Windhoek’s current water demand is 33 million cubic metres per annum.

New Era understands that NamWater had plans to extract 3.5 million cubic metres from the Von Bach and Swakoppoort dams for Windhoek but this was not possible, as the two dams are already over-exploited. Omatako, which also supplies water to Windhoek, currently has no water because it has run dry.

The situation is exacerbated by the high influx of people into Windhoek,which has seen the city’s population increase from 250 262 in 2001 to 342 141 in 2011 without additional water infrastructure being added.
Water experts have over the past months warned that a water crisis is inevitable should the heavens not open up graciously, thus it was never a matter of whether the water crisis would eventually come but rather when it would come – and it is here now.

The overall national water crisis – worsened mainly by poor rainfall in the country – is set to hit both rural and urban communities hard. The agricultural sector in particular will be heavily affected.
Increasing temperatures coupled with low rainfall continue to strain the bulk water supply system in the country’s hub, Windhoek.

“The City of Windhoek (CoW) hereby announces that the persistent drought has left the CoW little choice but to announce a water crisis scenario in the capital in relation to the CoW Drought Management Plan,” announced the municipality’s spokesperson Lydia Amutenya in a statement yesterday.Upon further enquiry, Amutenya said there was only a combined 15 percent of water left in Swakoppoort and Von Bach dams. Omatako Dam is completely empty.

“The 15 percent is the benchmark set before declaring a crisis. We will start fining those who are transgressing the enforcements put in place,” she said.
A water consumption review will be conducted early next year.

Public parks and sport fields would have to be watered through an approved semi-purified irrigation connection.
The city has also made mandatory the use of pool covers and filling private pools is not allowed.
Government recently allocated N$458 million to fast-track completion of the Neckartal Dam, which will unlock irrigation activities.Efforts to get hold of NamWater’s chief executive officer Dr Vaino Shivute yesterday proved futile as his mobile phone went unanswered.

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