Oudtshoorn – The drought in the Central Karoo has become so severe that the Beaufort West municipality has introduced a water sharing scheme.
The town has been divided into 12 areas, in which people will be unable to bath, shower or do laundry for 36 hours at a time.
“Residents in Hospitaalheuwel, Newton and Hooyvlakte were warned on Monday that the water pressure will be low (on Monday) and that they have to make provision by filling up buckets and water containers in advance,” said Hein Rust, head of disaster management in the Central Karoo district municipality.
“As the water table of the boreholes, which provide the town’s water, is so low, we have to lower the water pressure of the residential areas as a temporary emergency measure to decrease water use.
“This means that residents in the areas will not have normal water pressure in their taps from Tuesday 10:00 to Wednesday 20:00. There will be a thin stream for essential use.
“Water tanks have been erected in at least five places in the areas where residents can get drinking water.”
The central business district, where most of the guesthouses are situated, is excluded from the water sharing system.
The water table of about 30 boreholes, which provide water to the town, has dropped due to the drought, bringing the town’s water crisis to a head.
“We realised last Thursday that the borehole’s levels were dropping dangerously and decided it was time for our emergency water plan,” said Rust.
“We have to close off water supply to some residential areas for at least 36 hours to establish real savings. With the lower pressure we force residents to use water sparingly. Under high pressure, the water gushes from leaks.”
Recycled sewage water system
The water share system will be in place until December 15 when the recycled sewage water system becomes operational. “The system is about 98% completed and will bring considerable relief. We will have a normal festive season.”
The water purifying system was set up at great cost to supplement the town’s fresh water.
“The system purifies water by filtering it under great pressure through very thin membranes. The water that is recycled in this way is pure because it has been stripped from necessary trace elements and will have to be supplemented by borehole water for normal home use.”