Last week, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality said that water levels at dams that supply the metro have reached critical proportions. This, as the combined dam levels, sit at just above 18%.

The municipality says although they fixed 80% of leakages, about 30% of water continues to be wasted. Water provision to some residents and businesses has been intermittent for about a week. Some areas have no supply for many days.

Residents of Nelson Mandela Bay have begun to feel the pinch as a continuous supply of running tap water now feels like a luxury.

With the Impofu Dam, which is the main supplier currently sitting at just 18.2%, the city is about to experience the full impact of drought.

Aging infrastructure has presented the metro with more challenges. A pipe burst at the Nooitgedacht Water Scheme and electricity faults were the leading cause of intermittent water cuts for the past couple of days.

Residents say life is getting tougher every day. “It’s really terrible, we can’t do any bathing or shower and on top of that we have load-shedding, so it’s very awkward for us, I mean it’s days that we can’t bath and really having trouble with dishes too. It is really awkward to fetch water at the tankers. On Friday I was going to get water from the tanker at 8’oclock in the morning and was only able to get water at 8’oclock in the evening.”

“You just do the basic things like toilet flushing and that type of thing. You can’t do the washing with that, so the little bit that time that it does come on, you have got to wash so quickly. One time I washed with the washing machine and it just stopped and I wondered what went on and I realised oh ok it is water again, the water is off, so it comes like a surprise, you never know when the water is on or when it is off.”

With businesses still reeling from the nationwide lockdown, some business owners in the metro are barely coping. The water cuts have presented yet another challenge.

Businessman Michael Kliment says his company is suffering. They manufacture high precision tooling and pressing that supplies the automotive industry. The industry relies heavily on water usage. He says with no water available, he had to send some of his staff back home.

“There are targets that I have to make. I supply the automotive industry. They don’t care that I have a water leak, they want their parts on a Tuesday. Every Tuesday I have to do the delivery to them. Same with Shatterproof, same with Volkswagen. We can’t work this way. A lot of our machines also use water for cooling, but we have a system where we re-use the water, but it needs to be cleaned once every two weeks, and this is the week when it needs to be cleaned. I can’t use old water. And as you can see it’s just leaking, leaking nonstop and no one is working on it.”

MMC for Infrastructure and Engineering, Mongameli Bobani says there are plans to provide longer and lasting solutions.

“We also want to find a bigger and permanent solution, in terms of we are now making plans for us to have a distillation plant, already as I am talking to you, there are meetings that are taking place. COEGA are working together in order to make sure that we are having a permanent solution of a distillation plant, but the city is not folding its arms under the situation. We are repairing the water leaks, our plumber is there. And also we are coming up with a solution of boreholes water so that we don’t arrive at the dry taps.”

Bobani has appealed to residents to use water sparingly and pray for rain. He says there are plans to employ plumbers for each ward to ensure a quick response to water leaks.