Truckloads of water arrive in dry rural Western Cape

14 March 2018 - 06:00 By Naledi Shange

Four trucks of water which have arrived in Paarl and Wellington in the Western Cape are meant to bring much needed relief to residents of Berg River‚ Hermon and Gouda‚ say the Gift of the Givers.

Founder Imtiaz Sooliman said on Tuesday locals in the rural parts of these areas had been without proper drinking water since last month.

"There was jubilation at the arrival of this water‚ which we now understand is specifically for the rural populations that live along the Berg River from Hermon to Gouda and beyond‚" said Sooliman.

"The Berg River community falls under the municipalities of Breede Valley and Drakenstein. They put in a request to Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management who in turn called Gift of the Givers to intervene urgently if possible‚" he added.

The trucks had left the Gift of the Givers's offices in Bramley‚ Johannesburg‚ on Monday and had arrived in the Western Cape on Tuesday. The trucks had been carrying 17 568 units of five litre bottled water.

"Those who spoke to us said that the populations along the Berg River were already out of drinking water since February‚ and that they would appreciate as much bottled water as possible. A further delivery is planned for next week‚" said Sooliman. "The municipality has earmarked so called 'red' areas which require urgent intervention with this drinking water."

On Monday‚ Sooliman had labelled the Western Cape drought as serious.

"Many don't understand that as yet. Breede Valley‚ Drakenstein and neighbouring areas have reached Day Zero. There is no drinking water‚" he said.

"At many schools the taps have run dry already. There is no water for toilets or for flushing. Requests for assistance are pouring in from multiple institutions throughout the Western Cape region and we are delivering as fast as we can‚" Sooliman said.

The Drankenstein Municipality‚ however‚ said while it is grateful for the assistance of the Gift of the Givers‚ it was far from reaching Day Zero‚ which is when the water pipes and tap would run dry.

"Should the area run out of existing surface water‚ Drakenstein Municipality will be in a position to immediately switch over to groundwater sources‚" said spokesperson Riana Geldenhuys.

"Should a Day Zero situation materialise in Drakenstein‚ the municipality will‚ 30 days before the actual estimated date‚ alert residents‚ businesses‚ schools‚ hospitals‚ tourism establishments‚ prisons and other institutions. It will also reduce water pressure further and roll out its comprehensive Day Zero plan‚" she added.

Meanwhile‚ Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Zweli Mkhize has declared the drought and water crisis affecting parts of the country as a national state of disaster.

Speaking at a briefing by the interministerial task team on drought and water scarcity on Tuesday‚ Mkhize said South Africa "should continue to save water as water is one of the indispensable commodities”.

Mkhize said that dam levels in the Western Cape were the lowest in the country at 25‚5%.

Gauteng has the highest dam levels at 92‚8%‚ followed by Mpumalanga at 77‚9% and Northern Cape at 67‚9%.

Despite these higher dam levels these provinces‚ he cautioned‚ were not out of the woods in terms of water scarcity.

Hundreds of rescue dogs could be out of water if Day Zero strikes Cape Town. But a donation of 69,000 litres from Johannesburg animal lovers in the first week of February is being used in an attempt to keep the rescue dogs’ bowls full no matter what comes their way. Text correction: Kelly-Ann van der Merwe is from the organisation One Small Act of Kindness.