The Makhanda municipality has given the assurance that the water shortage in Makhanda has stabilised and that there is now more than enough water to go around. The municipality has also agreed to pay the Gift of the Givers for the work they did to avert a disaster.

The assurance comes at a time when the National Arts Festival is just weeks away.

The refurbishment of the James Kleynhans Water Treatment plant is complete and it is now producing 13 mega-litres of water daily, three mega-litres more than the required amount. This follows a multi-million rand financial injection from the Department of Water and Sanitation and Provincial government.

Makhanda Mayor, Mzukisi Mphalwa, says that they are going to close some of the boreholes dug by Gift of the Givers for use during emergencies.

“The water situation in Makhanda is now stabilised, especially in the west because the James Kleynhans water works is producing more than it should. Our concern was actually the western side where the dam levels are at a low 65%, but the boreholes that the Gift of the Givers dug for us produced water that is going to last us a long time. What we are going to do is that we are going to close a few of them so that we use that water during emergencies.”

The western side of  Makhanda, which felt the brunt of the water shortage, is the economic hub of the city and is also home to the National Arts Festival. CEO of the festival, Tony Lankester, says that they planned for the water shortage in advance.

“Our doors as the National Arts Festival are open. We know that there are water problems, but that is nothing new to us and so we plan for it way in advance. Our focus now is to have a successful festival and that’s what we will have. I can assure people that there will be enough water during the festival and they must come and see the wide variety of artists.”

Chairperson of the Makhanda Business Forum, Richard Gaybba, says that, despite a few hiccups, the city is still a great investment for a variety of sectors.

“Grahamstown [Makhanda] is a city rich in history; we have buildings dating back to the 1930s and the much loved National Arts Festival. Yes, we are facing hiccups here and there but the city is still great for investment in a variety of sectors, including agriculture. Our doors are open for business.”