No rain, more heat and water cuts for city
WITH little chance of rain for the remainder of this week, Kimberley residents have been warned to prepare for the dry, hot conditions in the city to continue.
According to the SA Weather Office, there is little to no chance of rain for the remainder of this week, while temperatures will stay in the high 30s.
The rising mercury has been blamed on El Nino, which looks set to affect the entire southern hemisphere.
El Nino is the warming of sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean which influences atmospheric circulation, and consequently rainfall and temperature in specific areas around the world.
As sea temperatures rise, the air becomes more dry and humid, influencing hotter weather patterns. This is responsible for making hot summers even hotter and severely limits the amount of rainfall across the country.
The Sol Plaatje Municipality has meanwhile warned that the nightly shut-downs of water will continue for the foreseeable future as the local authority is unable to meet the city’s consumption demands.
Municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, explained yesterday that the levels at the Newton Reservoir had to be maintained in order for the pressure tower to provide water to high-lying areas of the city.
“We will continue with the nightly shut-down of water from the Newton Reservoir in order to ensure that the dams at the reservoir maintain the required levels. We know this is not the ideal situation and we will have to look at long-term solutions.”
Matsie explained that the low-lying areas of the city, including Galeshewe and Roodepan, were not reliant on water from the Newton Reservoir and were fed directly from the main pipeline from Riverton.
Among the medium to long-term solutions that will need to be looked at include increasing the volume of water extracted from the Vaal River as well as the filtration process.
Currently there are two filtration plants, although the old plant is presently only working at 50% capacity and one possible scenario would be to increase the capacity of this plant.
The volume of water pumped from Riverton is also dictated by the capacity of the pumps. The old pump house at Riverton can presently only pump at around 1 200 to 1 300 litres per second. This will increase to around 1 500 litres per second when the new plant is commissioned.
The new plant was originally scheduled to come on-line in November last year, but it is now expected that it will be only be completed shortly before winter.
Despite the increased pumping capacity of the new plant, the city is also limited by the size of two lines, a 900mm pipeline and a 450mm pipeline, that carry water from Riverton to Kimberley. Another possible scenario to ensure a constant supply of water to Newton would be for the municipality to provide a third dedicated line from Riverton to Newton. This, however, is expected to cost hundreds of millions of rands and is not yet on the cards.
In the meantime, the municipality has appealed to residents to make every effort to reduce their consumption.
Adding to the municipality’s water woes is the fact that the pump which provides grey water from the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Works to the city’s gardens and parks has been out of order for several years. Matsie confirmed yesterday that the pump had been broken for more than 10 years, meaning that the city could not water its public gardens.
A member of the public pointed out recently that thousands of rands were being spent by the municipality on purchasing seedlings for the city’s islands, which were never watered and withered and died within a week.
“It is so sad to see these seedlings, which look beautiful for a few days, just shrivel up and die because they are never watered. The municipality should look rather at putting in succulents or plants that are drought-resistant,” she added. “One wonders how much money is spent on purchasing these seedlings when everyone knows they will never be watered.”
According to Matsie, however, the plants are watered from special water tanks. “Putting in the seedlings is part of the attempt by the municipality to beautify the city.”