Ermelo water crisis continues as government prays for rain

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The water supply crisis in Ermelo continues as government comes to grips with providing desperately needed relief to thousands of residents. And while government drags its feet trying to crisis-manage yet another water emergency in Mpumalanga, the fact is that it has failed to find an immediate short term solution to restore water supply, except for praying for the current heavy rains to continue for the foreseeable future.

While the emergency response of building pipelines and increasing dam capacity may be feasible in the long term, government must take heed of the fact that 81 water tanks and water tankers filling them are simply not sustainable, nor permanent.

Furthermore, residents continue to suffer while government departments on all levels play the blame game, and their current response, while commendable, requires a much more creative response.

To make up for this shortcoming, the DA proposes that the joint operations committee implement the following measures:

* Acknowledge that the use of water tanks is only a short term measure and must be phased out as soon as possible;

* Convene emergency talks with all stakeholders from all sectors who hold water licences in the catchment area, and agree upon a steady release of water into the water system, augmenting the flow into the Douglas and Willem Brummer dams;

* Considering that 20% of Msukaligwa’s water is either lost or wasted, an emergency leakage response team comprising of engineers and technical staff must be established to contain or shut down all water leaks and illegal connections across the city;

* Close off all non-essential taps in public areas and parks, only allowing water supply to communal, residential and business consumers;

* Implement and enforce strict water restrictions;

* Ensure that the municipal billing system is accurate and meters are read to ensure maximum revenue generation;

* Investigate the most feasible manner of implementing “the drip system” for default payers;

In addition to the above, the municipality must determine the cause of the crisis and take decisive action against officials who may have been negligent in the execution of their duties.

Ermelo and surrounds needs to conserve every available drop of water and a collective effort will help reduce demand and increase supply.

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