Kouga Municipality wants to be declared disaster area as drought continues

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The Kouga Municipality has written to the Eastern Cape government to have the municipality declared a disaster area due to the prolonged drought.

The municipality draws its water from the Kouga Dam, which currently has a water level of 4%. The towns of Jeffrey’s Bay, Patensie and Hankey are facing a day zero scenario. Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, John Steenhuiseen and Kouga Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, conducted an oversight inspection at the dam.

Kouga Municipality has since 2018 drilled 40 boreholes and diverted water from Humansdorp to Hankey to alleviate the effect of the drought. More than 200 water tanks have also been installed in informal residential areas. These interventions cost R151 million.

Kouga Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, says now the municipality needs R100-million to extend the time frame for the arrival of day zero.

“We avoided a first day zero in 2018. We are facing a new one now. In 2018 this dam shot up from 5% to 50% in one weekend with some good rain. Currently, it is dwindling on 4% again and by October – December we should run out of surface water,” says Hendricks.

Day Zero is fast approaching for the Kouga Municipality: Mayor Horatio Hendricks

Hendricks says a drought disaster declaration will unlock some funds to assist the municipality to deal with infrastructure challenges and drilling more boreholes. He says they have also approached the private sector to assist.

Steenhuisen says he will put pressure on the national government to have the municipality declared a disaster area

“I will be going back to Parliament to put pressure on the national Minister of Water Affairs and ask ‘what do you intend to do now?’. Will you send experts her? Are you going to be intervening? Will you provide assistance? If not, why not? And then the COGTA (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs) Minister needs to get an explanation from the provincial government why have you not declared this a disaster area? Why have they not been doing it to access national government funds?” says Steenhuisen.

The Kouga dam level is currently at 4.13% and dropping daily.