DAY ZERO LOOMS FOR THIRSTY BCM

'It is not only what the metro can do, but what res­i­dents should do to meet it half­way. We ex­pect peo­ple to change their be­hav­iour'

Daily Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - SOY­ISO MAL­ITI SE­NIOR PO­LIT­I­CAL RE­PORTER soy­i­som@dis­patch.co.za

Most of Buf­falo City Metro will have no wa­ter dur­ing the day on Thurs­day, pos­si­bly ex­tend­ing into Fri­day. This is be­cause the city is work­ing on cru­cial in­fra­struc­ture in the face of a loom­ing wa­ter cri­sis, with au­thor­i­ties say­ing the city is on the brink of the prover­bial Day Zero.

The city has now moved to stage three wa­ter re­stric­tions — just a month af­ter the coun­cil ap­proved stage two.

This is the sec­ond-last tier be­fore reach­ing Day Zero, or stage five, an­tic­i­pated to ar­rive in Fe­bru­ary un­less the de­mand for wa­ter turns around.

And with thou­sands of hol­i­day­mak­ers ex­pected to visit the metro, the de­mand for the nat­u­ral re­source is likely to ex­ceed the sup­ply.

City spokesper­son Samkelo Ng­wenya said be­cause coun­cil­lors had ap­proved wa­ter re­stric­tions in var­i­ous stages in Oc­to­ber, there had been no need to seek ap­proval from coun­cil to move to stage three.

While the wa­ter re­stric­tions are mainly due to the se­vere drought, poor main­te­nance of in­fra­struc­ture has ex­ac­er­bated the sit­u­a­tion.

Ng­wenya said parts of the metro would be with­out wa­ter on Thurs­day, and pos­si­bly Fri­day, due to essen­tial main­te­nance at the Um­zonyana wa­ter­works plant in Scenery Park.

Wa­ter sup­ply was in­ter­rupted on Satur­day in the Wil­so­nia in­dus­trial area be­tween 6am and 6pm. The Dawn area was also af­fected as the metro was re­plac­ing wa­ter pipes.

Ng­wenya said the next wa­ter in­ter­rup­tion would take place on Thurs­day from 6am to 6pm. He said the main­te­nance of in­fra­struc­ture was to an ex­tent re­lated to the lead-up to Day Zero.

“They are in­ter­re­lated be­cause the first thing we want to do is to en­sure that our in­fra­struc­ture is up to scratch,” he said.

He said Thurs­day’s main­te­nance would af­fect the greater East Lon­don area, in­clud­ing

Gonu­bie and Mdantsane. Be­tween now and Thurs­day peo­ple should fill up tanks be­cause there would be no wa­ter in the metro.

Ng­wenya warned that the wa­ter in­ter­rup­tion could spill over to early Fri­day, “due to the na­ture of the work”.

He called on res­i­dents to keep their taps closed through­out this time. Ng­wenya said peo­ple should not panic, but warned that at the cur­rent wa­ter us­age rate, Day Zero “looks in­evitable” for the city.

Ng­wenya said BCM was try­ing to avoid a total col­lapse of the wa­ter sys­tem.

With stage three re­t­ric­tions, res­i­dents must use non-potable wa­ter for gar­den­ing. Wa­ter­ing or ir­ri­ga­tion with mu­nic­i­pal drink­ing wa­ter is only al­lowed be­fore 9am or af­ter 6pm, and for only 30 min­utes.

Wash­ing or hos­ing down hard sur­faces such as pave­ments is for­bid­den and res­i­dents must have writ­ten per­mis­sion from BCM to re­fill or empty their swim­ming pools.

Rain­wa­ter or grey­wa­ter (dirty wa­ter with­out chem­i­cals) must be used for flush­ing toi­lets.

Ng­wenya called on res­i­dents to alert the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to wa­ter leaks and warned that they would soon clamp down on il­le­gal wa­ter con­nec­tions.

He also cau­tioned that ratepay­ers who used ex­ces­sive amounts of wa­ter would be slapped with puni­tive tar­iffs.

“Res­i­dents who are tak­ing peo­ple in should be mind­ful that dur­ing these hol­i­days your bill — if you do not guard how they use wa­ter — will be higher, with ptu­ni­tive tar­iffs.

“Peo­ple must be very vig­i­lant by way of when and why they use wa­ter.

“We are try­ing by all means to avoid Day Zero, but at this stage it looks in­evitable. For res­i­dents, we are go­ing to be charg­ing more for us­age,” he said.

Ng­wenya said they had tar­geted re­duc­ing wa­ter con­sump­tion by 25% via the stage two re­stric­tions.

“But as you can see, if we’re mov­ing to stage three it means that has not been suc­cess­ful.

“The is­sue here is not only what the metro can do, but what res­i­dents should do to meet the metro half­way. We ex­pect peo­ple to change their be­hav­iour,” he said.

“If the sit­u­a­tion doesn’t change, by Fe­bru­ary we will be at Day Zero. Our dam lev­els are drop­ping at a very sig­nif­i­cant pace and the rains are not mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact,” Ng­wenya said.

The East­ern Cape gov­ern­ment last month de­clared the en­tire prov­ince a dis­as­ter area and is ex­pected to re­ceive mil­lions of rand for drought re­lief pro­grammes.

The wa­ter in­ter­rup­tion could spill over to early Fri­day due to the na­ture of the work

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