Mangaung could be facing a serious water crisis


Don’t be fooled by the rain, Mangaung is still suffering from a severe drought says the chairperson of Bloemwater, Tefetso Phitsane. Phitsane was speaking at a joint media briefing held by Bloemwater and Mangaung Metro Municipality. The two dams supplying water to the metro, namely Welbedacht Dam and Rustfontein Dam are both at extremely low levels of 9 percent and 25 percent respectively. Mangaung has now implemented a 30 percent water restriction, and will continue to work on improving its water infrastructure programme, as well as monitor water wastage through leaks.

Phitsane warned against complacency now that we have received some rain. “Don’t be deceived by the rains that you see outside. It is nothing. They actually don’t make any impact at all. We are appealing to every Mangaung resident to his part by ensuring that we try and reduce the usage of water. We literally don’t have water.”

Mangaung residents have also been encouraged to report their boreholes to the municipality. Municipal By-laws require all those with boreholes to report them to the municipality as having a borehole does not automatically give you ownership of that water. Residents are further urged to continue to adhere to water restrictions which include not watering lawns, plants with hosepipes and irrigation systems. The hosing down of hard surfaces and car washing is also highly discouraged.

The municipality has written a letter to the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane in hopes of being able to get water supply from the Katse dam in Lesotho. Phitsane says that if there is not enough rain by the middle of December, Mangaung will be in serious trouble.

“In the next two months if there’s no water that is released from Katse Dam we will run into serious problems. So we are hoping that the minister will be able to respond positively to that letter by releasing water from the Katse Dam. By mid-December, if nothing happens in terms of serious rain, we’ll then have serious problems.”

The Department of water affairs, meanwhile, are fast tracking a planned water pipeline from the Gariep Dam, in order to alleviate the water supply crisis in the Mangaung Metro municipality.
Construction on the Gariep pipeline was initially planned to start by 2035, but the current drought and shortage of water has urged the department of water affairs to ramp up this schedule considerably.
Though he could not provide an exact timeline for the completion of the project, nor what stage it is currently in, provincial Water Affairs head, Tseliso Ntili says the R2 billion Rand project will be completed as soon as possible.
Ntili also says there is no quick fix for the silting problem at the Welbedacht Dam, which provides water to at least 69% of Mangaung. The dam is currently silted up beyond 90%, which means even if we were to receive plenty of rain, the water would simply be lost. The dam’s water level is currently at 9%.
Ntili says the problem is the result of a range of factors which include the high sanbdstone prevalence in the area, poor soil management practices by farmers, and the influence of the drought on erosion.


Earl Coetzee and Seithati Semenokane