Water crisis in Oudtshoorn: state of disaster declared by local municipality

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A water crisis has forced the municipality of Oudtshoorn, in the Western Cape, to declare a local state of disaster as the town came to an alarming realisation.

On Friday, Oudtshoorn Mayor, Colan Sylvester, revealed to News24 the urgent state of the town’s water crisis and with warm weather on its way, it’s very concerning:

“With the summer slowly approaching, Oudtshoorn Municipality has also realised that water consumption will increase and inflow into the dam is less than the outflow…”

How much usable water is left in the Raubenheimer Dam?

According to Sylvester, dam levels were at only 30.7% with reports stating that there is only enough water in the Raubenheimer Dam for 160 days before reaching the surface water, which is unusable.

Furthermore, the South African Weather Service has predicted that over the following six months, abnormally high temperatures should be expected with less rain.

“We will be having water restrictions soon and also go out on a communications strategy to take the community with, by keeping them abreast of the crisis. We will also focus on water-saving measures and encourage residents to use grey water to water their gardens,” shared Sylvester.

Oudtshoorn municipality urges residents to conserve water

The concerned major has stated that the municipality was appealing to residents to not only use water sparingly at 75 litres per resident, but to report leakages immediately.

Sylvester added that

“we also urge residents to rather take showers [instead of] using bathtubs, and [to] try to keep their water usage to 75 litres per person per day.”

Oudtshoorn resolution to surviving water crisis

Following the crisis, the Council also unanimously adopted the following resolutions:

  • Oudtshoorn is in partnership with the Eden District Municipality in efforts to address the current water crisis in the greater Oudtshoorn. The municipality also works with a variety of local role players in the greater Oudtshoorn as well as the Western Cape and national government.
  • A local emergency committee must be established consisting of all relevant role players.
  • A communication strategy is being developed for a large-scale communication campaign on the water crisis project to keep all role players and the public informed.
  • Law enforcement officers will be appointed to ensure that the public adheres to the water restrictions.
  • Special attention will be given to the repair of leakages across the Greater Oudtshoorn.

Furthermore, The Council has vowed to hold a workshop on the following important policies and plans that will ensure better management of this crisis:

  • The Drought Management Policy
  • Risk Management Plan for the water crisis and also
  • The communication plan also aimed at the water crisis,” the municipality said.

“The Oudtshoorn Municipal Council is viewing this water crisis as very serious and we commit ourselves to use all available resources to ensure that the Greater Oudtshoorn gets more water and that our citizens are well educated to look after this valuable resource,” stated Sylvester.

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