17 December 2018


Water restrictions for Bokone Bophirima as drought continues


Nthusang Lefafa


16 September 2016

A continuing dry season for the country will see increased water restrictions on Bokone Bophirima. The province is one of the most hard hit since last year and has been working hard to lessen the impact of the ongoing drought on both farmers and citizens.

With a dim forecast for this year's rainy season, Bokone Bophirima finds itself forced to come up with more creative ways of conserving water. The Department of Water and Sanitation said it would implement water restrictions in the province's major dams to limit the use of water for urban and irrigation purposes.

The department said it was in the process of publishing a gazette on water restrictions to limit the use of water for urban and irrigation purposes from Sehujwane, Marico-Bosveld, Kromellenboog, Swartruggens, Pella, Madikwe, Molatedi, Lindleyspoort, Setumo and Koster dams and river systems.

The drought has seen the province's dams running below normal water levels. Managed water restrictions will prevent the risk of complete system failure to supply water.

"Due to the critical low levels at these dams, together with the lack of seasonal rainfall and lack of run-off during the past few months, we did an analysis which determined the need for implementing restrictions on the use of water from these dams," said Acting Head of the Department of Water and Sanitation in Bokone Bophirima, Dr Tseliso Ntili.

The current drought has been recorded as one of the country's worst, according to the South African Weather Services (SAWS), with all nine provinces being affected.
The Department of Water and Sanitation's Ntili, said community participation in alleviating the effects of drought is necessary and water conservation should be a way of life for all. More than three million citizens of Bokone Bophirima are affected by the drought.

Ntili said some of the most effective ways of conserving water in dams and streams is through the removal of invasive alien plants because they consume a lot of water. He also said residents should generally avoid activities that can pollute dams and rivers and using the drip irrigation system. Ntili also called on residents to work together with community leaders to spread water conservation messages in schools, churches, clinics and any platform that can reach the community.

National spokesperson for water and sanitation department, Sputnik Ratau, said the department has provided 25 trucks as a relief measure for Bokone Bophirima: "The Department is currently assisting with tankering whilst also exploring other short-term interventions, including underground water source development. In Ngaka Modiri Molema there are also challenges in rural areas with regard to drying up of boreholes and vandalism of water infrastructure, which leads to rampant water shortages."

The Department of Water and Sanitation reports that the national water storage is under increasing stress and shows a steady decline week on week. National dam levels were at 53% compared to 72% at this time last year.
"The drought is far from over and even with normal rainy seasons it will take a number of years for the system to stabilise. Therefore, there is still a need to continue to intensify the enforcement of restrictions and to stretch the available water supplies," said the department in a statement.

The drought has not only affected the economy but maize production too. South Africa only managed to produce 7.2 million tons of maize, down 28% from last year's nine million tons.

Bokone Bophirima's Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) has performed assessments on the state of drought through the Provincial Disaster Management Centre in consultation with the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). The Department is appealing to every individual to use water sparingly and adhere to water restrictions.